Karthik jumps Red light
Dinesh Karthik looked desolate on Saturday evening after the Indian squad for the first two ODIs against Pakistan was declared.
Karthik, usually a friendly, voluble sort, kept his own counsel on the evening. But he obviously spent the night coming to terms with his axing and answered his critics in the best way possible - by letting his bat do all the talking.
He scored an unbeaten 91-ball 116 to help India Blue beat India Red by six wickets to wrap up the Challenger Series and lift the NKP Salve Trophy in Motera on Sunday. Karthik came in to bat with his team reeling at 55 for 3, chasing 270. Once man-of-the-series Suresh Raina (50 off 43 balls) departed, it looked dicey, but Karthik stayed on and took his team to victory with 54 balls to spare.
The Tamil Nadu player would obviously have been disappointed with the selectors decision to leave him out but that was probably justified.
This, for instance, was his first domestic one-day hundred, so he could probably look at this as the beginning of better times in the shorter version of the game.
Sunday was probably always going to be his day after Pragyan Ojha mistimed his jump at mid off when Karthik tried to clear him off the bowling of Siddharth Trivedi and the ball popped out of his hands. He was on 42 then.
He probably came out wanting to prove a point, and one in no uncertain terms. He began with a four off Praveen Kumar off the first ball he faced and had hit two boundaries and a six in his first 18 runs.
He added 47 for the fourth wicket with Raina and then constructed an unfinished partnership of 168 with Niraj Patel (62 not out) to steer his team to victory.
Earlier, Gautam Gambhir's flamboyant 83 off 77 balls, an uncharacteristically cautious 55 by the man he replaced in the squad, S. Badrinath, and a late charge by wicket-keeper-batsman Manish Rawat (43 off 59 balls) and the tail saw India Red post a challenging target after a dismal start. Despite wickets tumbling at the other end Gambhir showed no signs of curbing his attacking instincts. His century stand with Badrinath (111 in 130 balls) was the tournament's first - a stand in which Badri contributed just 38.