Dinesh Karthik propelled a weakened Indian outfit to an unlikely victory over Bangladesh last night. Coming in with thirty four needed off the last two overs, and with a struggling Vijay Shankar at the other end, Karthik exceeded all expectations in an absolute exhibition of clean hitting.
He went six, four, six, in his first three balls, and suddenly India were back in the game. Karthik found himself at the non-strikers end for much of the last over, and needed a four to tie and a six to win off the last ball. He gleefully pounced on a Soumya Sarkar half-volley, crunching it over extra-cover for six with an air of inevitability.
Last night marked a deserving, long-awaited career highlight for the embattled Karthik. It is remarkable to think that he debuted as a nineteen year-old in 2004; that makes him only thirty-two now and several years of cricket ahead of him. He displayed flashes of potential upon his arrival in international cricket, but the emergence of MS Dhoni relegated Karthik to the position of India’s second-choice keeper for more than a decade.
Karthik has taken whatever roles he has been given without complaint. He has played as a specialist batsman, fielded at short leg, even opening the batting in England in an unlikely move which ultimately paid off, with him scoring key runs in difficult positions.
He has continued to promise much, with a level temperament, solid technique, and IPL-bred power hitting. Unfortunately, until last night he lacked a career high-point at the international level. Seventy nine ODIs have only resulted in nine fifties, and he hasn’t played test match cricket in eight years.
It is hard to imagine anyone in Indian cricket more deserving of the accolades and attention Karthik received last night; perhaps that is why people were so immediate to praise him. He was ridiculed after his first wife left him for Tamil Nadu and India teammate Murali Vijay, he has been dropped more times than even he could probably remember, but he has kept working hard, churning out the runs in the Ranji Trophy and reminding us of his class in the IPL, and now, no matter how the rest of his career turns out, he has produced a moment which will ensure his cricketing immortality.
You beauty ! @DineshKarthik 👊🏽👌🏼
— yuvraj singh (@YUVSTRONG12) March 18, 2018
29 off 8 balls .. 6 off the last to win the game .. Proper finishing @DineshKarthik .. #BANvIND
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) March 18, 2018
Amazing victory by #TeamIndia. Superb batting by @DineshKarthik. A great knock by @ImRo45 to set the platform.
What a finish to a final!!#NidahasTrophy2018 #INDvsBAN pic.twitter.com/ZYDl6jzVWl
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) March 18, 2018