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June 14, 2014
Indian cricket's nearly man
Murali Kartik, the former India left-arm spinner, has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. Kartik, 37, played eight Tests, 37 ODIs and one Twenty20 international for India. His first-class career, which began in 1996, spanned more than 17 years.
Kartik's career coincided with the dominance of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh in the India side, and as a result, he never got a sustained run in Tests. He played four Tests in 2000, making his debut against South Africa in Mumbai but had to wait for more than three years for his next chance, which came against Australia in Sydney in January 2004, where he had a return of 1 for 211.
He bounced back with a solid showing against the same opponents at home later that year and his seven wickets were crucial in India winning the Mumbai Test in November. The first Test against South Africa in Kanpur later that month turned out to be Kartik's last, although he made a short-lived ODI comeback in 2007.
The comeback brought about his finest ODI performance, also against Australia in Mumbai, where he claimed 6 for 27 and then made an unbeaten 21 in a match-winning ninth-wicket partnership with Zaheer Khan.
"The Mumbai Test (match haul of 7/76) where I won the Man-of-the-Match award will always be special as we were able to restrict an Australian side chasing 103 (107)," he said, when asked to pick out his career highlights. "Also when Sachin presented me with my India Test cap and Kapil Paaji (then coach) presented the India hat."
Kartik was also a key member of the Railways side that made successive Ranji Trophy finals in 2000-01 and 2001-02, both times against Baroda. He played a vital role in their maiden title triumph in 2001-02, taking 5 for 51 and 3 for 7 in addition to scoring 69 in the second innings of the final.
In all, he played 203 first-class games and took 644 wickets at an average of 26.70. Nearly a third of those wickets were for English county sides Middlesex, Somerset, Surrey and Lancashire. He was also a handy batsman and was even used as an opener at times. He made 4423 first-class runs at an average of 20.19 with a highest of 96.
In the latter part of his career, Kartik also enjoyed success in the shortest format in England. He was part of Middlesex's T20-winning squad in 2008, and made two finals with Somerset in 2010 and 2011. He has represented Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Pune Warriors in the IPL and was picked by Kings XI Punjab in the 2014 auction. Kartik has said he will be available to play for Kings XI in the forthcoming Champions League T20.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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