It is often said that one man’s pain could be another person’s gain. In Dinesh Karthik’s case, the only reason he was on the flight to Bangladesh was because skipper MS Dhoni injured himself at the last minute. The series provided yet another opportunity for the talented Tamil Nadu batsman to cement his place in the side. But, like some many times in the past, he has blown away a great chance to press for a permanent place in the side. With Ambati Rayudu and Ajinkya Rahane grabbing their respective opportunities, Karthik may find himself back in the wilderness once Dhoni returns to the team.
There has been no doubting Karthik’s talent ever since he made his debut in 2004. And while it is true that he is unlucky to be playing in the same era as MS Dhoni, it is also a fact that he has been given a number of chances of cement his place in the side, but has disappointment with his efforts. In this particular Asia Cup, there have been moments when Karthik had a chance to become a hero, but squandered all of them. And, this not only applies to his batting, but also his wicket-keeping, which has cost India dearly in last two matches.
Speaking of his batting first, Karthik was out second ball against Sri Lanka, playing a rash stroke off Ajantha Mendis, after hitting a boundary off the first ball. He had enough overs to build an innings, but made a hash of it. In the match against Pakistan, he got himself in and featured in a decent partnership with Ambati Rayudu. However, while the need of the hour was for him to bat on for a few more overs, he tried to be too cheeky and handed over a simple catch. The most disappointing aspect of the lap sweep was that Pakistan had posted a fielder for the same, and Karthik fell into the trap.
Shifting focus to his wicket-keeping, he missed an easy stumping chance of Kumar Sangakkara at a time when Sri Lanka were a fair way away from the target. All Karthik needed was to take off the bails. Sangakkara was well out of his crease, but Karthik couldn’t even do the basics right, that of taking off the bails. In his anxiety, he missed the stumps altogether. Against Pakistan, he gave a reprieve to Sohaib Maqsood, again when the match was finely balanced. Maqsood went on to add a few more crucial runs, which again cost India.
In fact, Karthik’s whole career has been a tale of missed opportunities. In a career spanning 70 matches, he has only managed seven fifties at a poor average of 27.4. Following some great performances in the practice games, he was chosen as a pure batsman for the Champions Trophy. However, he managed only one fifty in four games, and did not fare much better in subsequent tours of West Indies and Zimbabwe as well. Following his latest failures, it is difficult to see him playing for India again.
--By A Cricket Analyst