March 18, 2018 – Nidahas Trophy final: Dinesh Karthik slammed a last-ball six in the final against Bangladesh to steer India to a memorable trophy. He scored 8-ball 29* with 2 fours and 3 sixes to help India chase down 34 runs required off last 12 balls. It was clean hitting from Karthik who reinvented his international career with this knock.
He was the toast of the nation post this historic win. Karthik became a regular in India’s XI in limited-overs cricket after this win. He was given the role of a finisher and looked set to seal a World Cup berth in 2019.
Cut to February 10, 2019, Hamilton T20I against New Zealand. Dinesh Karthik was still playing the role of the finisher for India with MS Dhoni being the first-choice keeper. India needed 68 runs off 28 balls with Dhoni back in the pavilion and a youngster in Krunal Pandya for a company.
Both went after New Zealand bowling to raise India’s hopes of a series win. Pandya was at his brutal best, hitting six at will. It came down to 16 runs off 6 balls. A situation tailor-made for Karthik to finish off the game and seal the World Cup berth.
India needed 14 runs off 4. And then came the brain freeze as Karthik refused a single to Pandya, with the hope he can finish off the game in the next three balls. But it came to haunt Karthik as India lost the match narrowly by 4 runs.
A few days later, Indian selectors omitted Karthik from the ODI series against Australia and named Pant as the second-choice keeper or as a specialist batsman.
It seems Karthik has to pay heavily for the refused single that cost India the game. Besides, the emergence of Rishabh Pant has made it difficult for selectors to ignore the youngster for the World Cup.
So, is it the end of World Cup dreams for Dinesh Karthik?
In comparison with Pant, Karthik, despite his obvious skills and talent, offers less in utility and team composition. Pant is a left-hander and adds variety to a dominating right-handed Indian batting line-up. Pant is a big hitter of the ball and can go after the bowling from the first ball, a skill he demonstrated in the third T20I at Hamilton against New Zealand. Pant raced to 12-ball 28 in no time and raised India’s hopes of a win. Pant can bat anywhere in the line-up and give much more options to Team India. Pant can open, bat at No 3 and even don the role of a finisher.
But Karthik, who has been giving the specialist job of finishing off games, has not done so badly too. In few games, he has received the opportunity to steer India to the finishing line, he has done it with aplomb. The most recent has been the 14-ball 25* in the third ODI against Australia to steer India to maiden 2-1 ODI series win Down Under.
But after one failure, Karthik has been dropped from the ODI series against Australia at home. Although Karthik does find a spot for himself in the T20Is against Australia, it’s anybody guess that the chance to impress in the shortest format is extremely less when you are batting lower down the order.
Besides, with Pant in the ODI series, the youngster has great opportunities to impress one and all and edge past Karthik to seal the World Cup berth. It would be really unfortunate if Karthik misses out despite consistent show with the bat for the last one year.
Although BCCI selector MSK Prasad has neither denied or confirmed anybody’s spot for the World Cup, Dinesh Karthik still have a chance if he produces a few match-winning knocks in the T20I series and the IPL or if India decide to go for three keeper-batsmen in Dhoni, Pant and Karthik. Not all is lost for Karthik yet.