Karthik interrupted West Indies’ celebration in Tarouba with an unbeaten 19-ball 41 on a two-paced field.
Alzarri Joseph was hit clean to short third, and Ravindra Jadeja swung his bat in rage over the stumps. In 16 overs on a sticky, two-paced Tarouba field, India has amassed 138 for 6. Regularly slowing down the pitch and keeping the ball out of the batters’ reach are Jason Holder and company. With a large crowd rallying around them, West Indies can tell they are onto something.
But in the opening international match at the Brian Lara Stadium, Dinesh Karthik spoils the celebration for the West Indies with an unbeaten 19-ball 41 that pushes India to 190 for 6. Karthik is the first Indian batsman to score over 150 on a difficult surface when wickets dropped in clusters.
After expertly finishing off innings for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL and for India in the T20Is at home against South Africa, Karthik produced another finishing move in the Caribbean, bolstering his case for a spot in India’s XI at the T20 World Cup, which gets underway in October of this year in Australia. To Know more about T20 World Cup Tickets click here
Karthik has struck at 210.91 in T20 cricket’s final overs since the IPL 2022 began. Tim David (226.72) and James Neesham (220.45) are the only players who have played at least 10 innings during this time with a better strike rate.
Even though Karthik has received extensive training for the finisher’s position, the Friday circumstances were not in his favour. At one point, he was on 17 after 12 pitches; India had no other suitable batting alternatives beyond him, and the ball kept halting at the hitters. Karthik could not be stopped, nevertheless.
Karthik shuffled over and pushed everything into a swipe that soared over midwicket for six when Holder missed a yorker. When there was no cover in the deep, Holder moved around the stumps and aimed a length ball over him, but Karthik stretched out like Mister Fantastic from the Marvel Universe and scythed it over covers for four. To make matters worse for West Indies, they were only allowed to use four fielders outside the 30-yard line because of an in-game punishment for their sluggish overrate.
In the final over, Karthik further damaged them by smashing the ball over the infield for two additional fours and a sixth six. To counter Obed McCoy’s change-ups in that penultimate over, Karthik used a greater backlift while pointing towards first slip, ala AB de Villiers.
Ashwin sat back and exclaimed, “Nallarukku [This is good], DK,” at the other end. Ashwin was one of the people who used to go to Chepauk simply to see Karthik bat back in the day. Karthik is currently at the height of his abilities and is so certain of his position that he can finish well under any circumstances.
“I’ve been enjoying it [the finisher’s role] a lot; it’s a very interesting role,” Karthik said at the post-match presentation after bagging the Player-of-the-Match award. “It’s not something you can be consistent with, but on the days that you do well, you can make an impact for the team. You need the backing of the captain and the coach that I’ve got in abundance, so that really helps.
“What is important is assessing the wicket. On any given day in the last four-five overs when you bat, there are a lot of things you need to be aware of – the shape of the ball, the softness of the ball, [the nature of] the wicket, what kind of shots you can play, and then you need to decide. That comes with a little bit of practice and understanding the various aspects of batting.”
Karthik has always valued both game and practise time. He had gone to Theni, which is around 500 kilometres from Chennai, to compete in a T20 tournament for his team, India Cements, before the IPL 2022. Karthik travelled to Coimbatore to play a T20 game for his TNPL team Tiruppur Tamizhans on a slow surface before the Caribbean tour because he needed some playing time.
Even at the age of 37, he still uses all of that preparation to great effect and disproves the critics. Even Shanker Basu, a close confidant of Karthik’s and the team’s fitness coach, admitted on the BeerBiceps podcast that he had disregarded the possibility of Karthik making an overseas comeback.
Karthik’s comeback has been so successful that the Indian team’s management is now willing to move other hitters to make room for him to bat at the end of the game. He even led the Indian team in two exhibition T20 matches played in England. Thanks to his most recent performance, he is one step closer to securing the finisher’s spot for the 2018 T20 World Cup.
‘It will not be easy for Pakistan to beat India in 2022 T20 World Cup’: Shoaib Akhtar
According to former Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar, it will be difficult for Babar Azam and company to defeat India in the forthcoming T20 World Cup, unlike the previous tournament, where the men in green thrashed their bitter rivals by 10 wickets.
On Sunday, October 23, Pakistan will play India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“India will come up with proper planning this time around. It will not be easy for Pakistan to beat India in T20 WC this time,” Akhtar was quoted as saying by Cricket Pakistan.
When asked for a prediction, the 46-year-old shied away and instead had some advice for the skipper. “Predicting match results now is quite difficult but Pakistan should bowl second as [the] pitch in Melbourne offers bounce to fast bowlers,” Akhtar said.
However, Akhtar did predict a packed house for the encounter at MCG.
“I believe the crowd will be bigger this time. Around 150,000 fans will watch the match line in Melbourne. Out of which, 70,000 will be Indian supporters,” he concluded.
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