Dinesh Karthik throws his hat in the ring for T20 World Cup | Crickit
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Dinesh Karthik throws his hat in the ring for T20 World Cup

By, Kolkata
Apr 21, 2024 06:20 AM IST

Riding a scintillating strike rate of 205 this IPL for RCB, the 38-year-old says he will do everything to make the cut

This is what Dinesh Karthik’s IPL career has looked like: In the first three years with Delhi Daredevils, his batting strike rate never rose above 135. It dropped to 128 in 2011 with Kings XI Punjab, and sank to 111 in 2012 after joining Mumbai Indians on a reported fee of $2.35 million. From there to Daredevils, to Royal Challengers Bangalore, Gujarat Lions and Kolkata Knight Riders till 2021, Karthik had only one truly breakout season — in 2018 when he aggregated 498 runs at a strike rate of 147.77.

Royal Challengers Bengaluru batter Dinesh Karthik plays a shot during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 cricket match(PTI)
Royal Challengers Bengaluru batter Dinesh Karthik plays a shot during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 cricket match(PTI)

He went back to RCB in 2022 and had a season to remember, striking at 183.33, but more crucially, hitting 22 sixes alongside 27 boundaries. Throughout this time, Karthik batted at no particular position for a long time, the refrain being that he is most productive at tight ends of the innings, meaning he never really got to face more than 10-12 balls per innings. That has changed this season (he averages more than 17 balls faced per innings) primarily because of RCB’s occasional batting implosions; and he has cashed in on the longer stints. The number of sixes he has hit — already 18 compared to 16 boundaries — has led to a career-high strike rate of 205.45.

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Karthik, 38, attributes it to having more clarity about his batting than ever. “These days as a player, you need to understand your strengths. I'm not a Russell or a Pollard who can just mishit a ball and get a six for it, rather," said Karthik ahead of RCB’s match against KKR here on Sunday. “So, I need to understand how I can beat gaps, what sort of balls I can hit for boundaries. And I realised there was a certain pattern in which bowlers were bowling to me, so I needed to try and work out a solution for that.

“Hence, when I practice, I try and understand, okay, if this is what they're going to bowl at me, how am I going to get a boundary, visualising a field that is going to be in place for me. So, I worked like that, and I worked backwards, and that helped me, you know, really learn a couple of shots more, at the back end. It's been great to go out there and express myself, and it's been thoroughly enjoyable to do what I'm doing for RCB as a finisher.”

Working as a broadcaster has added valuable perspective as well. “It’s made me calmer,” said Karthik. “I have understood how it works behind the scenes, what it takes to speak about the game and hence when I am playing I understand that when people say something it’s nothing personal. I don’t take it as personally as I used to and that part has helped. I look at my batting differently.”

Right now, Karthik may not seem to be a frontrunner to make the T20 World Cup squad, given Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan and KL Rahul are already making the wicketkeeper-batter slot a difficult one to call. Much could change if he continues to bat this way. Karthik too is eager to give it a mighty shot, having last played for India in the 2022 T20 World Cup.

"At this stage in my life, it would be the greatest feeling for me to represent India. I'm very, very keen to do so. There is nothing bigger in my life than representing India in this T20 World Cup.

“I also feel there are three very, very stable, honest people who are at the helm to decide what should be the best Indian team for the World Cup -- Rahul Dravid, Rohit Sharma and Ajit Agarkar. And I'm completely with them. I respect any decision that they take. But all I can say is I'm 100% ready and I'll do everything I can to be on that flight to the World Cup.”

The T20 World Cup will be played in the West Indies and the USA from June 2 to 29. The India team is expected to be announced on April 30.

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