5 qualities of Dinesh Karthik that justify his selection in the Test team
A couple of weeks back Dinesh Karthik was playing Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy and preparing himself for India's ODI tour of South Africa. Even in the wildest stretch of the imagination, he would not have dreamt of getting a call-up for the Test side. What transpired would have certainly made him a believer in destiny.
Both Parthiv Patel and Karthik made their debut before MS Dhoni. However, it was Dhoni's explosive batting and adequate keeping which did not let the two cement their spot on the side. Now with Wriddhiman Saha ruled out of the series and Parthiv Patel having failed to deliver the goods behind the wickets, it is almost certain that Dinesh Karthik will make the playing XI in the 3rd Test.
Let us have a look at his 5 qualities that justify his selection in the Test team.
#5 Current form
Karthik announced it to the world that he has struck some genuine form when he slammed his third half-century in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy recently. His 56-run knock against Goa came after his explosive 71 against Kerala to bring up 211 runs in five innings of the tournament.
Karthik has been striking the ball well of late. He was sensational in the Duleep trophy where he notched up a ton for India Red. The Tamil Nadu keeper has scored 296 runs in four first-class matches at an impressive average of 59.20.
#4 Runs in South Africa
It was the 3rd Test of India's tour of South Africa in 2006-07. The series was levelled at 1-1. After warming the benches in the first two Tests, Karthik finally got a game in the 3rd Test at Capetown. He grabbed the opportunity with both hands as he scored a grinding 240-ball 63 while opening the batting against the likes of Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini.
Karthik features in the short list of Indian players who have overseas runs in their kitty. He has scores of 60 (Lords), 77 (Nottingham) and 91 (Oval) in England that is known for tough batting conditions. In India's 2007 tour of England, when the ball moved around, a young Karthik courageously faced the opposition.
#3 Wicket-keeping skills
If Parthiv Patel is dropped from the 3rd Test which is most likely, it would be because of his keeping skills and not because of his failed batting performances. Patel's dropped catches in the 2nd Test reiterated the fact that a keeper is one of the most underrated members of the playing XI. If he lacks efficiency, he can single-handedly deny victories to the team.
Dinesh Karthik is a way better keeper when compared to Parthiv Patel. If we are to rank the three in terms of glove work, it would be- Saha, Karthik and Patel in the same order. The 32-year old was not among the best keepers, to begin with. However, he worked hard on this aspect of his game and has improved enormously over the years.
It was fourteen years ago, when a 19-year old boy made his Test debut against Australia at Mumbai in 2004. Karthik's journey has been a roller coaster ever since. He has done well in patches. As a result, he has not been able to be a regular feature on the side.
Having played his last Test against Bangladesh in 2010, Karthik comes in with an experience of almost a decade and a half in international cricket. He has a long and prolific List A career of 206 (and counting) matches. The Tamil Nadu batsman has amassed 6043 runs at an average of a shade under 40, with his highest being an unbeaten 154.
He also has 11 centuries and 32 half-centuries to his name that are a testament to his batting prowess.
#1 Team man
Like Parthiv, Karthik is also an able back-foot player. He is strong on the cut and the pull shot and can pretty much handle himself against pace. From opening to batting at no 7, Karthik has batted at all positions for the sake of the team's balance.
You meet anyone in Tamil Nadu cricket and he will tell you that Dinesh Karthik is one of the most selfless blokes you'll ever come across. "After a point in my career, I realised that it's good to score those runs but you are remembered a lot of because of the tournaments you've won and the number of times you've stood up [for your team] in big matches," says Karthik.