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IPL 2018: MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik gear up to make educated guesses

The cricket careers of the two India wicketkeepers leading Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders, MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik, respectively, have been intertwined for well over a decade

cricket Updated: Apr 09, 2018 19:39 IST
IPL 2018,MS Dhoni,Dinesh Karthik
MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings will take on Dinesh Karthik-led Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League on Tuesday.(AFP)

After his sensational last-ball six against Bangladesh to seal the Nidahas Trophy tri-series in Colombo, Dinesh Karthik humbly wriggled out of any comparison with MS Dhoni as a master finisher.

“When it comes to Dhoni, I’m studying in the university in which he is the topper,” the 32-year-old declared. It was much a let’s-get-a-move-on at a media conference in Chennai on returning from Colombo as an acknowledgement of the stature of the man who edged out DK as India ‘keeper 13 years ago.

Tuesday though will be a perfect occasion to make educated guesses, in more ways than one, when MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings (CSK) take on Karthik-led Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), both having stumped sceptics by winning their first game.

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Dhoni was the original icon whom IPL organisers counted on when they announced the league in 2007 with the India led by him having freshly won the inaugural World T20. Into IPL’s 11th edition, the 36-year-old is the only one from the original band of anointed crowd-pullers still going strong.

While Dhoni is the ‘thala’ (the leader) for CSK fans and Chennai is his second home, it will be home-coming for Karthik as well. Tamil Nadu’s seasoned Ranji campaigner, Karthik knows every blade of grass at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, and that should make for an equal contest on Tuesday.

Another trait both share is their calmness. On Monday, Karthik barely broke a sweat as the heavy-duty hitting was done by Nitish Rana, and then Andre Russell, at the other end. The new skipper though had foxed AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli off successive balls through Rana’s part-time off-spin, which eased the pressure of chasing in the first place.

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Karthik’s typical nod and smile was all one got to see as the Eden Gardens erupted in joy. RCB opener Brendon McCullum – teammate at defunct Gujarat Lions in IPL 2017 – and ex-India coach Gary Kirsten, now in RCB dug out, warmly greeted him, both familiar with his ability.

Karthik didn’t grab his early India chances, and with Dhoni quickly cementing his spot, had to toil in domestic cricket. But he never gave up, and is back in the India set-up, rewarded for his consistency – and a wiser head – over the last two years.

When the last ball is bowled on Tuesday night, win or lose, the university topper and self-confessed student will both be smiling, though only one will be in happiness.

First Published: Apr 09, 2018 19:30 IST