Dinesh Karthik says he is not competing with Wriddhiman Saha
India 'keeper Karthik, who is all set to make a Test return after eight years tomorrow, insists he's not competing with Saha and looks to cement his place with a good show
Sometime last week, much before the Indian team started to gather in Bangalore for the preparatory camp ahead of tomorrow's one-off Test against Afghanistan, Dinesh Karthik quietly flew into Bangalore with his personal coaches in tow as also 10-12 club players from Chennai, booked a private ground for two whole days and put in the hard yards. Having the entire ground to himself, he simulated match conditions out on the centre square and sweated it out. And why was he taking all this trouble? Well, the fact is that when Karthik takes the field for Afghanistan's maiden Test, it will be his sixth stint in a Test career spanning 14 years and only his 24th Test. He sure doesn't want to miss out anymore.
'Happy to wear the whites'
That Karthik, 33, was excited to be back would be a gross understatement. "It feels very good to wear the whites. To be part of the Test team is something I've always dreamt of. I'm just thankful for the people who have stood by me over the years," said Karthik yesterday. One of the things that always stood out with Karthik is his candid manner. Here too, he didn't mince words when asked why his career has been such a rollercoaster. "I guess I did not perform well enough before. I wasn't consistent enough. There was a highly competitive environment. MS Dhoni was breathing down my neck, he was causing a lot of stir in Test cricket at that point of time. He has gone on to become probably one of the greatest Test captains India has ever produced. So, it's not that I lost out my place to some normal cricketer. It was just that I couldn't at that stage produce enough performances to hold on to my place," said Karthik. Having come in as replacement for the injured Wriddhiman Saha, Karthik now needs to do a Dhoni to keep Saha out for a while longer. That is he needs to bat so well that the selectors and team management are forced to ignore the fact that Saha is the relatively better gloveman.
Eyeing a consistent show
But Karthik doesn't see it that way. "I think if you go deep into that question [how to keep Saha out] and figure out what I can do to keep someone out, then you're taking energy away from the fact that you're competing with somebody. That puts a little bit of extra pressure than what is already there. What I'm looking to do, as clichéd as it sounds, is be the best cricketer I can be, not only on the field but off it. I'm trying to be consistent there, where even if I don't get the opportunity, even if I don't end up playing at the highest level, I want to be content with the fact that I've given it everything." He has, as the private nets, all paid for by him, including the hotel stay for his entourage, indicate.
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