Dinesh Karthik broke into the India team a little before the Mahendra Singh Dhoni phenomenon made the 'second-wicketkeeper' an unaffordable proposition in the team.
A jaded Rahul Dravid had outlived his utility as a keeper, and it coincided with Parthiv Patel's growing follies behind the wicket. Karthik got a chance to play against England at Lord's in 2004. A dropped catch, a stumping and catch, and one run with the bat, Karthik's debut was not what he would have liked. He didn't get to bat in the next match against Kenya, and his career veered towards uncertainty as Dhoni took over.
His ODI career came to a standstill till 2006, but a Test debut beckoned following Parthiv's poor form against Australia in 2004. Karthik's 14 runs in two innings and two catches were far from impressive but his keeping skills gave him another chance.
The two-Test series against South Africa didn't yield much for Karthik either. Nothing of note came out till he hit a sublime 93 against Pakistan at the Eden Gardens in 2005. A tour of Zimbabwe yielded two runs in two Tests --- a comeback script was due.
India may have lost the Test series to South Africa in 2006 but the knocks of 68 and 38 in the Cape Town Test prompted Greg Chappell, the-then India coach, to tip Karthik as "captaincy material".
Karthik's energy and the keenness to learn made him Chappell's blue-eyed boy. After four fifties and a century in the next five Tests against Bangladesh and England, everyone thought Chappell's prophecy was coming true. The next seven matches coincided with the rise of Dhoni and Karthik's role got altered — batting at different positions, trading gloves with Dhoni and warming the bench. Suddenly, Karthik went off the radar.
Having come to terms with the Dhoni factor, Karthik had started to stage a comeback when he was hit by a personal problem that left him shaken.
Order was restored with a roaring domestic 2012-13 season, and a productive 2013 IPL with the Mumbai Indians got him the visa for the Champions Trophy in England later that year.
Six unbeaten knocks in 16 one-day innings from there on, Karthik was back in business.
Refreshed and with a newfound love in his life --- he got engaged to squash star Dipika Pallikal, Karthik is back to being his effervescent self.
Saturday night's match against the Knight Riders showed that his natural flourish was back. Karthik drove over cover, swept and swiped, and the trademark full-blooded across-the-line hit to mid-wicket was proof that Karthik was back to being his natural self.
Notwithstanding the stiff target, Karthik, the stand-in Daredevils captain, spoke a language in the press conference that smelt of self belief.