Dinesh Karthik's English affair

There’s something about England that Dinesh Karthik finds irresistible. How else would one explain his last two knocks at Birmingham and Cardiff, six years after his memorable performances that played a key role in India’s triumph there. 

Dinesh Karthik
Dinesh Karthik celebrates his century against Sri Lanka in the first warm-up game at Birmingham on Saturday

What’s more, Karthik’s purple patch has given his career a new lease of life. Riding high on a fabulous Indian Premier League season, Karthik followed it up with back-to-back centuries in India’s warm-up games against Sri Lanka and Australia. His rescue acts in both innings forced skipper MS Dhoni to declare that Karthik is “sure to play in the XI”.

Thriving in English conditions, the 28-year-old has made his intentions clear: he won’t let this opportunity go abegging. Karthik made his one-day debut against England way back in 2004 at Lord’s where he could manage just a solitary run, but his magnificent stumping of Michael Vaughan is still quite fresh in every lovers’ memory.

He showed glimpses of his acrobatic ability when he collected the ball from outside leg-stump and dived in time to remove the bails as Vaughan was found short of his ground.

Magnificent series
His next opportunity to play in England came in 2007 where he featured in all the three Tests and five ODIs. The Tamil Nadu batsman had a good Test series where he scored a half-century in each of the three games. He fell nine runs short of the three-figure mark in the first innings of the last Test at Kensington Oval. Rahul Dravid’s India won the Test series 1-0.

Karthik, however, failed to replicate the same form in the ODI series. After scoring an unbeaten 44 in the first ODI during a low-scoring encounter, Karthik ended up scoring 1, 0, 4 and 2 in the next four games.

Pushing his case
A good first-class season and the ominous form in the recent Indian Premier League helped Karthik regain his spot in the Indian team. A good showing in the Champions Trophy would make Karthik’s case stronger in a team that is still struggling to fix its middle order ahead of important tours to South Africa and New Zealand later this year.

It may be recalled that Dhoni’s stellar rise since he made his debut almost forced Karthik into the wilderness, but the aggressive batsman has fought back impressively. He not only had to improve his batting and wicketkeeping, but also sharpen his fielding skills.

The improved and mature Karthik is finally giving the impression of doing justice to his talent. Only time will tell whether he succeeds in preparing a good recipe with all the necessary ingredients available this time. 

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