A dozen years after flying to the West Indies for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, Dinesh Karthik has returned to the side, aware yet again that he would only be the second choice to Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But his mature approach with the bat in crunch situations and, of course, his neat wicket-keeping skills won him the reserve stumper’s berth ahead of the younger aspirant, Rishabh Pant.
It took the man, who will be 34 when India’s campaign in the World Cup starts, much hard work to redesign his approach to batting to stay so relevant in the current scenario that he has sometimes been pressed into service as a specialist middle-order batsman ahead of many others. He realised that he has been guilty of gifting his wicket away in a crunch situation with rash strokes and tightened his game to serve the side better.
This quality, combined with a willingness to take on any role that the team management assigns him, sets him apart from many a younger batsman. The responsibility with which he has batted since returning into the fray in 2017, three years after fluffing stumping chances and being dismissed to poor shot-selection in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh, has given the selectors the belief that should Dhoni pull out of a game due to fitness, Karthik would be the best replacement.
Karthik may or may not get a game in the World Cup, but you can be sure that if and when he is called to feature in one, he will be ready in all senses of the term. And whether he is on the field or not, the leadership can benefit from the inputs that will come from a deep insight into the game, sharpened in many a cricket ground around the world.
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