It has been two days since Dinesh Karthik pulled off a heist to snatch victory in the final of the Nidahas Trophy. His unbeaten 29 off eight balls has also breathed a new lease of life into a start-stop career over nearly a decade and a half. Karthik believes the last-ball six off Soumya Sarkar to clinch the game was probably just dessert for all the hard yards and "good things" he has done over the years.
"It is probably karma I guess," he said at a press conference in Chennai. "For all the good things I have done all through my years and cricketing career… it probably helped me hit that six. If it had been a four, it would have been a Super Over and it would have been a different scenario. That two mm extra it went, was a great thing for me. Probably all the good things you do over the years come to fruition.
"I am happy to play the sport. It just feels good, that suddenly after so many years there is lot of attention on me which is different to what it is when you are playing domestic cricket. It is a hard grind out there. But at the same time you want it to be start of something special. Not be something you get too carried away with. From here on I want to do things like that consistently."
When Karthik came in to bat at No. 7, India needed 34 runs off the last two overs. He stood outside the crease and began by tonking Rubel Hossain for two sixes and a four off his first three deliveries. Karthik completed the over with another four, only this time there was more deft touch than brawn: a scoop over short fine leg for four. The defining feature of his batting has been the use of crease. Karthik credited batting coach Sanjay Bangar and his friend and mentor Abhishek Nayar, the Mumbai batsman for helping him out in this regard.
"That is one thing Sanjay Bangar has been talking about," Karthik said. "Use of the crease - that was one of the things I worked with Nayar also. How to use it and where to stand so as to get a feel what the bowler will be doing and what is the right position for you to be in the crease to make maximum use of the ball. And it paid off."
Karthik's composure was evident as much in his subdued celebration after hitting the six as his mentoring of Vijay Shankar, who was struggling to connect with the ball. Shankar had played out four dot balls off Mustafizur Rahman in the 18th over, and despite scoring a boundary in the last over got out off the penultimate delivery, leaving Karthik with five runs to score off the last ball.
Karthik, however, defended Shankar, who hadn't batted before in the tournament. "The good thing about him is he is very calm. Everyone thought he was flustered, he had a lot of thoughts," Karthik said of Shankar. "He was looking to hit the ball. The only thing I told him was the outfield was fast..look to hit a four and not a six. The only idea behind it was sometimes you look to hit a six, you end up losing head positions. When you want to hit a four, you will have good base and look to time the ball. I wanted him to time the ball and he was just trying to do that.
"Every cricketer goes through some days that things don't connect and it was first time he batted for India. But the beautiful thing is even in that pressure situation he hit a boundary which was crucial. He has the skill. He has done really well. He is probably someone who is seen more as a batting allrounder but for him to take the pressure as a bowler and deliver consistently is fabulous and I can see a really good time for him in the future. If I'm right, I think they are impressed with him. He has got great attitude off the field, his work ethics are beautiful."
Karthik was quick to avoid comparisons with the finishing role that MS Dhoni has owned. "When it comes to Dhoni, I am studying in the university in which he is the topper," he said. "So, it is unfair for me to be compared with him. I have started my journey. With time lets see how I go. His journey has been totally different. I am happy with where I am."
"I have always enjoyed playing as a batsman. I think fielding comes naturally to me and i enjoy doing it. Whenever I get a chance to field, I get excited. With keeping you are standing at one place and moving."