Analysis of Dinesh Karthik’s T20 (SWAT) World Cup berth

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“I’m very privileged to have you ask me these questions. It feels good, I don’t think you’ve done that (before). But I did that a bit.

While chatting with Virat Kohli after Royal Challengers Bangalore’s win over Delhi Capitals, Dinesh Karthik didn’t forget to mention his role as a commentator during India’s 2021 tour of England. In less than a year, how the tables have turned! Kohli lost or gave up his four crowns amid a severe drought. Meanwhile, at nearly 37, Dinesh Karthik has forced Indian cricket to think about himself again, with 210 runs at a 210 strike rate in seven IPL 2022 innings, including six unbeaten.

Every time the ‘no trespassing’ sign was put up outside the national locker room for one of his particular skills, Karthik would simply go back and chisel a new one. Permanently reserved counter clerk location under the name of MS Dhoni? Well, how about a specialist test opener in England? Or an intermediate place for a World Cup? Or now, a finisher role for a T20 World Cup?

Dinesh Karthik of Royal Challengers Bangalore during IPL 2022. (Sportzpics for IPL)

For the latter to happen, there are three big considerations for national selectors. First, has Karthik done enough to merit a recall? Bear in mind he wasn’t even among the 24 players India used under new captain Rohit Sharma in the T20I home series against New Zealand, West Indies and Sri Lanka after the debacle of the T20 World Cup 2021. Secondly, to what extent can the temperament of a big game in a World Cup knockout game under very different conditions be measured from the performance of the IPL, in especially given Karthik’s poor record in ICC tournaments? And third, and perhaps most important, how do you fit Karthik into the XI?

Karthik has publicly spoken about his desire to play the finisher role, since India’s 2019 World Cup exit. “I think I’m well placed to play the role that Dhoni has played for so many years,” he said three months after the Manchester debacle.

Dinesh Karthik Dinesh Karthik at the Ageas Bowl stadium. (Source: DK/Twitter)

This semi-final loss to New Zealand was the last game Dhoni and Karthik played for India. The man who made his India debut three months after Karthik would announce his international retirement a year later. Meanwhile, Karthik still believes his place in T20I caused collateral damage to the failed World Cup. The selection should be format specific, he would say.

As if completing all these games for RCB was not a claim, Karthik expressly stated this in detail. “There is a World Cup around the corner. I desperately want to be part of this World Cup and help India cross the line,” he told Kohli. “It’s been a long time since India won a multi-nation tournament. I want to be that person who helps India do that. For that you have to prepare differently, you have to be aware of so many things and try to be that player where people stand up and notice you and say, ‘hey, this guy is doing something special’, and I want be that guy.'”

Plan for perfection

There is no doubt that in this IPL, Karthik has brought an almost uncanny calm to what is, by its very nature, nerve-wracking work. In pressure situations, he managed to knock out some of the best international bowlers in the T20, such as Ravichandran Ashwin and Mustafizur Rahman.

He’s worked to hit a limit in the first three or four balls he faces, regardless of who’s bowling and whether his team hits first or second.

Dinesh Karthik Dinesh Karthik plays a shot during the IPL 2022 Match 31 between Lucknow Super Giants and Royal Challengers Bangalore held at DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai. (Sportzpics for IPL)

While batting first against the Punjab Kings, he hit his fifth ball for a boundary and came up with a nine-ball six-bound streak in his 32 out of 14. Against DC he was also setting a target but entered at 92 for 5 in the 12th over. So he took a bit longer, scoring his first boundary on his 14th delivery, but then came a deluge of seven boundaries in eight balls, as he zoomed to 66 from 34.

In the chases, the first boundary out of the very first ball against Chennai Super Kings and four out of five, before he was caught just at the edge of the substantial boundary of the DY Patil stadium for 34 from 14. Against the Rajasthan Royals, the first limit took five balls ahead; six would be taken in seven balls in an undefeated 44 of 23. So he worked a clear pattern.

Innovation is the nature of T20, with batsmen and bowlers constantly seeking marginal advantages over each other. And Karthik is anything but innovative; for example, he spent time tweaking the reverse scoop he plays against the point guards.

ICC World Cup 2019 Dinesh Karthik has been included in India’s 2019 World Cup squad.

“It’s a shot I practiced off season – the reverse scoop on the short third man. A lot of bowlers these days try to play wide yorkers so if you have that option you can try hitting that on the infield there. And more often than not if you connect you get a boundary. It’s a slightly hard shot, you have to be aware of what the bowler is trying to do and then try to be one on him.

Not just the reverse shovel, the whole finishing business is tough business, of course. In one of the RCB team videos, after their game against Lucknow Super Giants, Karthik is seen telling skipper Faf du Plessis about such a case in DY Patil’s locker room. “It’s too hard to hit at the end…I promise you I hit with all that power and he caught it 10 yards inside,” Karthik said, first playing a fake pull with effort, then taking a simple false catch.

The judgment of the selectors is whether this highly specialized skill set can be executed when the stakes are highest on the biggest stage. To that end, perhaps the IPL knockout stage will be a useful pointer; at least halfway through, RCB looks set to make the cut.

An ordinary track record

When it comes to World Cups by format, Karthik is averaging 10.14 in seven sets. In the T20 World Cups he averages 11.40 at a strike rate of 112. But he played the last of those in 2010 and is now a highly evolved batsman. The 2019 disappointment is much more recent, but it was a middle ground in the 50+ format. He’s vying for something completely different right now.

Finally, there remains the big question; where is it, or rather who are you leaving out to bring it in? Since the 2021 T20 World Cup, India have given Venkatesh Iyer the most chances (six sets) at the 5-7 positions, followed by Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant (four sets each). There were two chances each for Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer and Axar Patel.

Dinesh Karthik Dinesh Karthik (AP Photo/File)

“You don’t want to go to a World Cup with people who have consistently hit in the top four and throw them at five, six, seven and expect them to be successful,” Karthik had told ESPNcricinfo before the match. T20 World Cup 2021. . “You certainly expect a Hardik (Pandya) or a Jadeja to be successful. Who else is there that beats at those numbers for their franchises? So when things get bumpy and the game is in play, they know there’s a mid-level hitter who’s been in that situation.

Karthik’s argument has obvious merit and also leaves room for a bowler all-rounder and a spin all-rounder in two of those three slots from numbers 5-7. However, if Karthik were to take the latter, he would not Only one spot would remain available at No. 4 to insert one among Pant, Suryakumar and Shreyas, assuming the top three are Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Kohli. It seems highly unlikely at the moment that India will take part in the T20 World Cup without Pant and at least one on Suryakumar and Shreyas.

If neither of the bottom two make the XI, Karthik comes in their place. But assuming Suryakumar or Shreyas play, India should take one of three somewhat drastic calls to bring in Karthik.

Either he plays as a specialist wicketkeeper and Pant sits.

Or India sacrifices one of the two all-rounders they prefer to play (cutting or spinning). This means that the remaining all-rounder must send four overs, and none of the four specialist bowlers can afford to have a day off.

Or one of the top three batsmen sits. The captain cannot, and his opening partner Rahul is unlikely to have to, which leaves India with no choice but to leave Kohli out.

That possibility may not have been on the former India captain’s mind when he told Karthik: “I can tell you that you have presented a very strong case for yourself…I am sure a lot of people are also noticing this at the highest level. .”

This is going to cause headaches galore for the management of the team, but it fits the current reality of Indian cricket; there are too many worth a look and only 11 places to fit them all. But there’s no denying that Karthik once again went to work and this time, chiseled the T20’s toughest hitting skill for himself; whether or not he makes it to Australia in October, he is certainly holding his own in the IPL.

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