Dinesh Karthik cannot stand still. He is fidgety while he bats, twitchy while keeping wicket and hyperactive in general. But he was the opposite on Tuesday at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
The excess energy was absent as he ambled out for practice, long after most of his teammates had turned up. As he placed his kit bag next to the nets, a heavy shower lashed the ground.
The team decided to play football in the rain. It was meant to be a fun session, but Karthik, 29, stood there isolated. He was not going to joke about the less-abled footballers in the team, like the rest, or ask for the ball too much. For most of the game, it was just Karthik and his thoughts. On Tuesday, he stood still.As this year's second-most expensive player (bought at Rs 10.5 crore by Royal Challengers Bangalore), Karthik has been a dud. At a time when MS Dhoni has vacated the spot in Tests, Karthik has managed an embarrassing 43 from six games at an appalling average of 10.75. It was Karthik's inability to cement his place that saw Dhoni take over his Test spot a decade ago.
Then the clouds cleared up on Tuesday. Karthik wanted to get a feel of bat on ball. He queued up at the nets. When his turn came, he middled a few, missed the rest. He eventually walked out, nodding his head, doing shadow practice. He was not up to the mark his team want him to be, for which they have spent a bomb.
RCB know it too, but live in hope for the second half of IPL. "For him, personally it must be very disappointing. He has not been in the kind of form he would have wanted. But he is hitting them well in the nets, so we expect him to fire when the stage demands it," his South African teammate David Wiese, said ahead of the game against Rajasthan Royals.
For RCB, this is the second big buy that has gone awry. They spent Rs 14 crore on Yuvraj Singh last season for returns close to nil. What could come as consolation is that Yuvraj has not fired for Delhi Daredevils either. The flamboyant batsman's continued failure is the bigger worry. Teams have shelled out mind-boggling sums for him - bought for Rs 16 crore by Delhi this season, he is the most expensive player in IPL history.
Including one half-century, Yuvraj has scored just 124 in seven games at 17.71. His teammate and Sri Lanka skipper, Angelo Mathews, was the third-most expensive buy this IPL (Rs 7.5cr). The all-rounder has managed just 93 runs and five wickets in six games to cap another poor cost to value ratio.
Bought for Rs 4 crore, Delhi's Zaheer Khan is the next most expensive player this season. Injury has not allowed him to play yet, a situation that sums up all the franchise money that has gone down the drain.