Exclusive: This Indian team knows how to bounce back from defeats - Dinesh Karthik
In many ways, the trip to Australia and New Zealand was a historic one for the Indian cricket team. A Test series was won for the first time and in the World Cup year, the ODI challenges too were aced.
Several boxes were ticked, different players popped up on different occasions and the squad has a fairly settled look. Dinesh Karthik, who is one of the senior members of the side, believes that the confidence derived from the historic Test triumph helped the team approach the ODI series with a lot of confidence.
“I think the way we played the Tests transformed into the One Day series as well. We dominated the ODI series both in Australia and New Zealand, and as a team, we ticked a lot of boxes,” Karthik told Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview.
“This team has a lot of experience, this group has played many matches together and they know how to deal with situations at different times. They react to pressure situations brilliantly and this is what stood out whenever we were put under pressure at different times on the tour, We bat deep down, we have a couple of good all-rounders and the bowling attack is brilliant. Also, we have travelled well away from the subcontinent which has all helped in us winning the series,” Karthik added.
After being used in different positions, Karthik is now being used as a finisher, a role which has come quite naturally to him. However, he believes that one cannot be pigeonholed into any spot and that his biggest strength lies in his adaptability.
‘I have to adapt to different situations’
“My strength is my flexibility. As a batsman, I have to adapt to different roles and numbers and frankly, I have been around for a long time now to understand different situations. Mindset is important, I should always think about finishing games from any position. A finisher doesn’t always mean you have to take the game deep and then bash to finish. It is all about understanding situations and then adjusting your game with the aim that you have to get the job done. I think this is one area we pride ourselves on, and we want to be flexible as a batting unit,” Karthik said.
In the 2nd ODI against Australia at the Adelaide Oval, Dinesh Karthik was involved in a match-winning partnership with MS Dhoni. The duo rescued India from a precarious position and helped them draw level in the series. Throwing light about the conversation and approach they adopted in the centre, the Tamil Nadu-man said that the strategy was always about keeping the strike moving.
“In such situations, one needs to have good intent. At the same time we did not want to play too many dot balls and as cliched it may sound, but was kept churning the strike over. We identified moments and took our chances at the right time. Everything combined well for us,” he said.
Lessons learnt from MS Dhoni
It was quite symbolic, MS Dhoni, one of the greatest finishers to have graced the game has passed on the baton to Karthik, who has played a majority of his career under the former captain.
“See one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt from MS is to identify bowlers. There will be bowlers who will be having a good day, so it is important to give them their due. At the same time, you have put pressure on other bowlers who are not having an entirely good outing. The ability of MS to absorb pressure and then come out triumphs is amazing, a trait I’ve tried to inculcate.”
“When it comes to keeping, well, isn’t he unbelievable? Some of the stumpings he pulls off are stunning, to say the least. I don’t think it is easily replicable, it is one of the kind. Look at his head position, his balance, all these technical things are so perfect, and there is so much to learn,” Karthik said.
Team knows how to bounce back from defeats
Not everything was hunky dory for the Indian team down under, there were instances in the series when the side was put under pressure, but this is what Karthik believes is this side’s biggest strength - the ability to bounce back after a reversal.
“For me, this is the best virtue of this side and the biggest plus for us on this tour. We were rolled over in Hamilton, we were then reduced to 18/4 in the next match, but the guys fought. They dug in and eventually we won the game. We learnt from our mistakes in Hamilton and addressed them immediately, we saw off the pressure situations and batted the entire innings. In the first T20I against New Zealand, we conceded 220 odd, but in the next game we hit back and restricted them to around 160. I believe, this team takes defeats in their stride and has the ability to bounce back with intent immediately,” the wicket-keeper batsman said.
Difference in MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma as skippers
Karthik himself is a leader of men and has played under MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, and Rohit Sharma and believes that all three are very different in the way they approach the game.
“MS is very instinctive as a skipper. He takes a lot of decisions on the field in the spur of the moment. Virat on the other hand, is very aggressive, likes to take on the opposition. He is immensely self-confident and has consistently kept raising the bar, as a batter and a leader. And then there is Rohit. He always does his homework, is very strategic, very hands-on. Keeps going and speaking with his bowlers, has a word with the batters too. He is very thorough in his approach as a captain,” Karthik assessed.
Shubman Gill and Vijay Shankar were the two new entrants in the squad and while Gill did not have an entirely promising start to his career, Vijay Shankar looked promising in the limited opportunities he got. Karthik knows both players from close quarters and believes they have all the makings of a long-term prospect.
“Well Shubman is extremely talented, he is gifted. I am sure he will be the next big thing in Indian cricket. As far as Vijay Shankar is concerned, he has all the ingredients to be a quality international. He has grabbed all the opportunities which have been provided,” Karthik assessed.