Zimbabwe v India, 4th ODI, Bulawayo July 31, 2013

Karthik wants to fire as specialist batsman


Such is MS Dhoni's value as a player, it takes two men to replace him. But while one of the talking points of this tour has been how well Virat Kohli might fill Dhoni's shoes as captain, rather fewer people have been discussing Dinesh Karthik's merits as a wicketkeeper-batsman.

If Karthik had it his own way, however, his keeping wouldn't be a factor. Of all people, Karthik knows that the keeper's gloves belong to Dhoni for the foreseeable future and so he has set his sights on proving his worth as a batsman for India in all three formats.

"It's not something I've ever felt bad about because I feel it's a great opportunity playing with [Dhoni]," Karthik said. "I've always looked at myself [as someone who] can play as a batsman in this side and that's what I'm looking to do - play as a batsman in all three formats of the game."

It was his batting as a teenager that first attracted the selectors' attention, and once again the runs he scored during a fruitful IPL season with Mumbai Indians led to his recall in a simplified batting role for the Champions Trophy in June - his first games for India in three years. Karthik has also benefitted from some minor tweaks to his batting technique which have aided his balance at the crease.

"I feel I have the technique," Karthik said. "It's important that every time I get an opportunity I pile up the runs and make sure I do well as a batsman. We won the Champions Trophy and that was great. West Indies was a quiet time, but Zimbabwe again in the two innings I've played I've done well."

Yet, Karthik's figures do not quite convince. Since his return in England, Karthik has scored two fifties in 11 innings. Although the runs haven't begun to flow just yet, on a few occasions since his recall Karthik had shown he has the ability to absorb pressure in the middle order after the loss of early wickets. Most recently, he entered the fray during the second ODI at Harare with India wobbling at 65 for 4. He didn't need as much luck as his partner Shikhar Dhawan, who was dropped twice and caught off a no ball, and compiled a tidy 69 that helped set a match-winning total. His reaction to pressure situations like that will be key to Karthik's future.

"I'm looking forward to these things," he said. "It's important that you keep putting in performances every time you go into bat and be as consistent as you can, and that's something I'm really looking forward to doing."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricket on August 1, 2013, 10:20 GMT

    There seems to to be an obsession for all-rounders in all formats but if bowlers are taking wickets and batsmen are scoring runs why do they have to be all-rounders? Anyone who has played as wicketkeeper knows that it is the most physically demanding position and requires the highest level of fitness and concentration. Keepers should be focused on catching skills because dropped catches can cost matches and any runs the batsman goes on to make could more than offset any runs the WK makes. There have been fewer more valuable players than Dhoni in the sorter format. But question marks remain over his contribution with the bat in tests. But that's all right because as keeper and captain, India should not have to rely on him to make runs as well. Are England going to drop Anderson because he can't bat or SA drop Amla because he can't bowl? Karthik should be judged on his batting only otherwise all batsmen would have to be judged on their bowling and keeping.

  • James on August 1, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    Yes, even Manoj Tiwari, Manish Pandey, Jiwanjot singh etc etc want to fire as batsmen, but they hardly get the chance. As a wicketkeeper batsman, Karthik is not a bad option, and that too when Dhoni has been rested or is unable to play. For a specialist bastman, Karthik is simply not good enough. Rahane and Pujara are better than him, and not getting a chance to play. In tests, Rohit Sharma could be better than Karthik (based on first class results) and is yet to get a chance. Also waiting are Badrinath etc who are clearly better test bastmen than Karthik. I would also like to see a few chances being given to people like Gautam (the karnatak wk) so that we can see what stuff he is made of.

  • Shajahan on August 1, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    Karthik just made his come back. why some people are induxing about his overall career record? that too he played 10 yrs back.

  • Dummy4 on August 1, 2013, 6:41 GMT

    Every player tries his best 2 represent his country. So karthik aspiring the same is obvious. As for his capabilities i am not sure. But reading through so many comments chopping players here & there by the fans 2 bring their own favourites, i realise how tough a selectors job is.

  • Praveen on August 1, 2013, 6:03 GMT

    eh !!! I would prefer DK over Rohit for an opener slot. Look at this guy, Rohit!!! totally clueless against decent bowling sides. Dk can see the new ball well than this overrated Mumbaikar. DK saved MI's rear many times in this IPL. Dk was in contention for over a decade now. Give this guy a proper slot and see him shine.

  • Dummy4 on August 1, 2013, 5:57 GMT

    Both Karthik and Parthiv are about 4 years younger than Dhoni. As well as they made their debut before Dhoni. Yet Dhoni went far ahead of these two. Regarding Parthiv I feel he was blooded tooo early in career as we don't see many to succeed at the age of 17. Karthik was a bit mature when he came but his batting was not that imposing. Then comes MSD at the age of 23-24 which IMO is the apt age to made debut. He then starts thrashing all the bowlers scoring 2 big ODI hundreds and thus bringing question mark about Karthik's and Parthiv's careers. MSD soon became the captain making it tougher for these 2 keepers. Whenever Dhoni missed any matches, these 2 players were brought in as substitution but failed to make mark to stay even just as a pure batsman.

    Now only hope is if Dhoni retires after 2015 WC, then anyone of them can play as keeper also for about 2-3 years.

  • SEETHARAM on August 1, 2013, 4:16 GMT

    Dinesh Karthik, is a solid attacking batsman and should open the innings instead of Rohit Sharma, who disappoints his fans again and again. Let Rohit fight to get a spot in the lower order.

  • Sarma on August 1, 2013, 2:27 GMT

    In the last 2 years, India played 36 ODI players. How did the Indian ODI batsmen dominate opposition's bowling ? Let us look at the batting performance index (marks per match) of Indian ODI batsmen:

    Dhawan 59.5 Kohli 45.7 Tiwary 41.8 Dhoni 40.4 Gambhir 34.6 Yuvraj 32.8 Raina 32.3 Rayudu 29.9 Tendulkar 28.8 Rohit Sharma 28.5 Sehwag 26.8 Dravid 22 Irfan Pathan 21 Jadeja 20.5 Rahane 20.1 Karthik 19.3 Parthiv Patel 15.4 Vijay 14.1 Mithun 11.2 Ashwin 9.7 Bhuvanesh Kumar 6.6 Amit Mishra 5.3 Vinay Kumar 4.7 Praveen Kumar 4.4 Aaron 3.4 Umesh Yadav 2.6 Ishant Sharma 2.3 Md.Shami 2 Rahul Sharma 1.7 Dinda 1 Ojha 0.1 Unadkat, RP Singh, MM Patel, YK Pathan - All zero.

  • Sarma on August 1, 2013, 2:14 GMT

    Dhoni played 40 ODIs in the last 2 years; scored at an average of 52.36 and a strike rate of 91.

    Dhoni played 13 ODIs in the last 2 years; scored at an average of 24.50 and a strike rate of 71.

    Dhoni effected 1.15 catches & stumpings per match against Karthik's 0.92.

    As per my DMAC system,

    As a batsman: Dhoni 40.4 marks; Karthik 19.3

    As a bowler: Dhoni 0.6 marks; Karthik 0

    As a fielder: Dhoni 49.1 marks; Karthik 38.5

    As a overall ODI player: Dhoni 39.4 marks; Karthik 21.3

    Karthik must know playing International cricket for the country is much harder than playing club cricket like IPL. As Sunil Gavaskar said, one should have a pride to play for one's country and put a price on one's wicket.