Kolkata v Bangalore, IPL 2013, Ranchi May 12, 2013

Kartik wins in Royal Challengers' loss

It is hazardous to go by bowlers' figures in T20, but his figures of 4-0-17-1 in defence of just 115 were possibly an accurate reflection of how well he bowled

Bowling analysis is a term used synonymously with bowling figures. That usage doesn't work here. Twenty20 is a hazardous place to "analyse" bowlers. You can get wickets without doing anything, like when AB de Villiers reverse-swept L Balaji through to the keeper. In IPL, what with the inconsistent fielding standards, it becomes even worse. Ask Ravi Rampaul, who did everything right when opening the bowling in a small defence, but saw Abhimanyu Mithun make a right mess of a sitter at long leg. The beneficiary, Jacques Kallis, scored 38 after that reprieve, and possibly cost Rampaul's side the match.

Bowling figures usually prove crucial in the IPL, because, well, somebody has to get the wickets when the batsmen go kamikaze, but the bowlers are often incidental to what happens. More often than what is ideal, at any rate. Sometimes you just see batsmen do inexplicably crazy things, and bowlers walk away with excellent figures. Sometimes you see top edges fly for sixes and your fielders letting you down, and you take home dubious records. However, Murali Kartik's figures of 4-0-17-1 in defence of just 115 were possibly an accurate reflection of how well he bowled.

And Kartik was hit for the longest six of the match off the first ball he bowled. It was a pitch where all batsmen had struggled to time, and the other two sixes, hit by Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers, had just about cleared the rope. It can be demoralising when you run in, and see Yusuf Pathan, a hit and miss player on current form, smack one out of the ground.

Kartik, a veteran of Twenty20 in a variety of conditions and against a variety of batsmen, didn't respond with darts. He didn't go for ultra defensive fields. He trapped Yusuf in his next over with a left-arm bowler's offbreak, and then went on to show his mastery over Manoj Tiwary. Once again, it has to be seen through the tunnel of Twenty20, which has caused panic among better and more accomplished batsmen.

For the best part of Kartik's bowling, and perhaps the match, we need to go to the 13th over, which began with Kolkata Knight Riders needing 48 off 48. It wasn't quite Shane Warne, but there was drama all around. On more than one occasion, he pulled out of the delivery looking back at the non-striker. The batsmen, Tiwary and Jacques Kallis, weren't backing up too far, and it would have taken extraordinary work to mankad them, but Kartik was playing his small tricks to get under their skins.

Kartik might have too, because the batsmen did look indignant from afar. The bigger tricks, though, were seen in the actual bowling. Tiwary is known to play a wild shot as soon as he faces a few dot balls, but this time he responded with a flick over mid-on. The captain, as with almost all Twenty20 captains, sent mid-on back immediately. Sitting back and waiting for the batsmen to make the inexplicable mistake is the preferred way in T20. And it has happened more often in this IPL than makes for exciting cricket.

Kartik, though, called the mid-on back up. He wanted Tiwary to play that shot again. He was telling Tiwary he wasn't impressed. Tiwary nearly responded to the taunt, jumping out of the crease next ball. Kartik beat him in the flight, but couldn't go past the bat. Then he fired one in. And then he saw Tiwary make room, and tossed one up wide outside off. Despite the boundary, only six had come off that over. Despite that six first ball, Kartik had gone for just 15 in three.

Kartik was kept back after that over. He was to make the impact. And what a cruel game. You get one over to make the impact. And that one over can easily be played out when the asking rate is six an over. So on he came with 31 required off 30. The over was full of moral victories. You could argue Kartik would have won this if the contest had gone longer, you could have argued Tiwary would have behaved more like a batsman had this been a longer contest.

It was clear Tiwary was charging too early because with three consecutive deliveries Kartik saw him and bowled wide twice, and cramped him up once. On one of those occasions, he nearly had Tiwary stumped. Just two runs came off the over, Knight Riders now needed 29 off 24, but Kartik was bowled out. He had done his bit, though. It was up to other bowlers now.

And Kallis got a massive top edge to the next ball, which sailed over the keeper's head. All pressure gone. Knight Riders won.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 13, 2013, 18:43 GMT

    He is an experience bowler in the side, impotently he is clever. Even not taking more wickets he is an economical....RCB also have good batting line up like Chennai,Mumbai . If he stands up when crucial time, RCB can go through to end.

  • Albert on May 13, 2013, 15:12 GMT

    Wonder why Mutthiah Muralitharan and/or Daniel Vettori were not playing on a slow track like the one in Ranchi. Playing Mithun cost RCB the game and probably a chance to qualify for the playoffs. Time to get new strategists Mr. M.

  • Krishna on May 13, 2013, 12:46 GMT

    Murali Kartik has had the odd success and is a reasonably good bowler. But somehow I never felt he was international class. He has attitude issues and does not back it with any great skill unlike his skipper Kohli.Ganguly was right in ignoring him. He has been given chances but did not perfom with any great distinction. In the matches he has played, he has 3 wickets per test and 1 wicket per one day international. Not exactly numbers that would have the selectors climbing walls.If you look at Ojha, a spinner in the same mould, he has 102 wickets in 22 tests - almost 4.75 tickets per test and more than 1 wicket per innings in ODIs.So he got what he deserved - nothing more, nothing less.

  • Pavan on May 13, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    This is a story of two Murali's where one gets selected for the indian team with no performances from the past few limited over fixtures orIPL and the other even though showing lots of promise and ability and skill, still not gets the attention of the Selectors.

    The former is Murali Vijay and the latter is Murali Karthik.

    I seriously think Murali Karthik should have been in the champions trophy probables. It is not only the youngsters you want to fill in the team with but players who perform too.

  • Dummy4 on May 13, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    Kartik could not earn Ganguly's trust, who banked more on Anil Kumble and Harbhajan. So Kartik could not tic!

  • srikanthan on May 13, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    @Kaidranzer There is full TV Telecast and huge analysis for a game all of which is just 40 overs.Analysing a 4 over spell may appear to be an overkill , but really is a miniaturised version of the full .

    A 40 overs match ,years back would have been a joke. but now is par for the course.

  • kai on May 13, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    I am surprised that there's a whole article on a 4-over spell in domestic cricket.

  • Kashi on May 13, 2013, 8:54 GMT

    @RajChellappan, @analyseabhishek ... there are too many cases such as Murali Karthik. VV Kumar of TN, Shivalkar of Bombay, RR Goel, Shivlal Yadav of Hyderabad never got to play for India because Prasanna, Venkat, Chandra and Bedi were the worlds best spinners those days. Dinesh Karthik is facing similar dilemma because of Dhoni. At least Dinesh Kartik could be addressed - remember the days when Farookh Engineer (opener, wk) and Kundaran (No 11, wk) played in same test few occasions.

  • Rajkumar on May 13, 2013, 5:37 GMT

    Very well observed and written. Murali Kartik never got his due in Indian cricket. He should have played for much longer. One small forgotten event that could've changed the course of his career happened in Steve Waugh's last test in Sydney. When India had a real chance in the 4th innings, Kartik beat Ponting in flight very soon after he came into bat and Parthiv Patel missed a simple stumping chance. India might well have won the test match had Ponting been stumped then and Kartik's career could've turned out differently.

    He has the cleanest action and the best indian left arm spinner even today, in my opinion. He still deserves a chance in the Indian test team.