‘Dinesh Karthik has made a strong case for inclusion in India’s ODI setup’ | cricket | Hindustan Times
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‘Dinesh Karthik has made a strong case for inclusion in India’s ODI setup’

Dinesh Karthik needs to get more opportunities in the future, but the Indian cricket team management also needs to find backup options for Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar quickly, writes Aakash Chopra

cricket Updated: Mar 20, 2018 15:27 IST
Maturity has replaced vanity in Dinesh Karthik’s game, believes Aakash Chopra. The wicketkeeper-batsman helped India win the Nidahas Trophy title with his late heroics in the final.
Maturity has replaced vanity in Dinesh Karthik’s game, believes Aakash Chopra. The wicketkeeper-batsman helped India win the Nidahas Trophy title with his late heroics in the final.(AP)

India rested half-a-dozen players and still turned out to be too strong for their neighbours. India got a jolt in the first match but regrouped nicely to not only clinch every game thereafter but also became the only team in the tournament to win a game defending a total of 176 against Bangladesh in the league phase.

It wasn’t just a trophy win but a statement of strength by India. While most games were exciting to watch, there’s been a constant issue affecting T20 cricket --- teams chasing have a distinct advantage, and, therefore, most T20 games follow the same template across the globe. Winning the toss is akin to winning half the match. That must change.

Coming back to India’s gains, it’ll be difficult to look past Karthik’s heroics in the final and his growth as a player since his comeback. While potential and promise were always there, Karthik’s performance left a lot to be desired. He made his international debut before Dhoni and got multiple chances to cement his place, but couldn’t.

Earlier, he would make a good 20-30 before getting dismissed and leaving the team in a lurch. But since his latest comeback, he’s taken it upon himself to be there till the end and finish the games off. Maturity has replaced vanity with regard to building the innings and his innings construction suggests he’s finally cracked the code.

Laxman told me that succeeding in international cricket is about the knowledge of constructing an innings and it can take years for players to understand what worked for them. Karthik’s knowledge of his strength and calmness under pressure came to the fore in the final and he’s made a strong case for his inclusion in the ODI setup too. After all, middle muddle is yet to be sorted.

Washington Sundar, the biggest gain

For someone who started as a batsman, Sundar has transformed well as a limited-over bowler. He bowled the tough overs in all the games and held his own every time. He’s tall and has a clean high-arm action, which allows him to finish within the stumps most of the time.

He reminds me of Axar Patel in his first season of IPL. Just like Axar, Sundar also bowls a flatter trajectory and relies on his accuracy with regards to length to succeed. His trajectory doesn’t allow batsmen to use their feet and the length is neither short enough to pull nor full enough to get under while parked in the crease.

India’s spin department is already fairly crowded (so much so that Ashwin, Jadeja are nowhere close to getting back) and Sundar’s return has added another option. Ideally, India should have tested him a little with the bat too but that will have to wait. For now, he’ll only be considered as a bowler who might be able to bat a bit, if needed.

While the spin cupboard is overflowing, the same can’t be said about fast bowling. For the first time in over a year both Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar were rested, and that presented an enviable opportunity for Unadkat, Thakur and Siraj to make a mark. Thakur did have one good game but it’s clear that he’s work in progress. Unadkat was supposed to be the leader of this pack but didn’t look like one. Siraj hasn’t been able to convert potential into performance thus far.

While Thakur and Unadkat (for lack of options) will get more chances, Siraj might have to wait a lot longer. If India want to dominate white-ball cricket, they’ll have to find backup options for Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar. This tri-series was expected to bring India closer to finding them but, unfortunately, it’s still as far as it was at the start of the tour.

Disclaimer: The writer is a former India opener. Views expressed here are personal.