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Finish it like never before

Just when everyone thought Dinesh Karthik was a depleted force in world cricket, he unlocked his best version with clinical finishes for RCB. India coaches closed the door on him after the 2019 ODI World Cup but he has revived his chances of making a comeback with his IPL exploits.

Dinesh Karthik is one of the household names in Indian cricket. He was one of the plethora of wicket-keepers who were tried out by the Indian team before the arrival of MS Dhoni. Few would forget the sight of Dinesh Karthik achieving a super strain of Michael Vaughan in 2004. It was his first dismissal as a wicketkeeper for India but his international career never really took off.

When he started scoring regularly in domestic cricket, MS Dhoni had already established himself as a good wicketkeeper and so there was not much the Tamil Nadu batsman-wicketkeeper could do. However, come IPL 2022 and Karthik releases his best version. Despite a lot of talent, a back-and-forth history with the Indian team didn’t help his career much.

Karthik started his national career in 2002/03. He was rewarded for his performances in domestic cricket with an international debut in an ODI against England in 2004. He also made his Test debut the same year against Australia. He only managed to score a fifty in ten matches and he was dropped as a result. Karthik was also an integral part of the Indian team that won the historic Test series in England in 2007. He showed in the series that he could open the baton in the toughest conditions and succeed.

Karthik completed over 1000 first-class runs in the 2008-09 season and returned to the national team for a tour of New Zealand. However, his lack of consistency did not allow him to cement his place. Karthik made another comeback in the 2013 Champions Trophy and the tournament did not turn out to be a good campaign for him as he scored just 82 runs in four sets to 41 with half a century left. He also suffered a familiar dip in form after the tournament and lost his place in the Indian squad as a result.

Karthik was also part of India’s squad at the 2019 ODI World Cup but once again failed to impress the selectors. He scored 1025 points from 26 Tests at 25, 1752 points from 94 ODIs at 30.20 and 399 points from 32 T20I games. Dinesh Karthik may not have been happy with his international career as he has little to say and has been in and out of the team. MS Dhoni was the first choice wicketkeeper and so Karthik had to play with the bat to cement his place in the national team with the limited opportunities he got. The cricketer has not enjoyed a successful international career but his IPL exploits will make him happy for sure.

Since the inaugural season in 2008, he has played for six franchises and has one of his team’s most consistent appearances. This speaks to his fitness as many players younger than him struggle to play a full season to handle the workload. Dinesh Karthik has 3889 carries from 184 IPL rounds with an average of 25.93 and a strike rate of 131.30. When Kathik captained Tamil Nadu until the final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2019-20, he had told ESPNcricinfo he was aiming for an MS Dhoni-like finishing role and he is doing so successfully in IPL at least this season.

Karthik has scored 14 32* balls, 7 14* balls, 23 44* balls, 2 7* balls and 14 34 balls in the IPL 2022 so far. He has a strike rate of 218.33 and a massive average of 131. Being a wicketkeeper gives him an advantage in IPL and he is very rarely left out of the playing XI. This season Karthik seems to have unlocked his best version and it finishes games like never before. Even in the last game against CSK, the required run-rate was very high, but Karthik opened the possibility to steal the game. From being inconsistent, the batter-wicket-keeper seems to be knocking on the door of the Indian team with his aggressive exploits.

Much like Dhoni, he has created an aura around him that no target seems impossible with him on the fold. He has opened up the possibility of a return to the national team, but having several wicket-keepers in the squad already could stand in his way. Moreover, Karthik will have one more challenge. He will have to maintain his consistency unlike what he has done in his previous national team appearances. The wicketkeeper’s batter looks sublime and his presence in the lower order allows top-notch batters to play freely without worrying about running pace for Bangalore Royal Challengers.

Karthik can come back with his batting skills as the team is looking for a finisher and he can provide it. Hardik Pandya could be the first option for the team to be a finisher whenever he can play, but with that kind of form, Karthik may be in contention for the spot. It’s hard to say if he’ll make a return to the national team, but it’s a feast for the eyes to watch him play like this hitting the middle of the bat and hitting every delivery cleanly.

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