Chance for Karthik to once again prove his Test credentials

Cricket Sports News

CHENNAI: For Dinesh Karthik, there couldn’t have been a more opportune time to get a recall into the Indian Test side. Replacing the injured Wriddhiman Saha for the one-off Test against Afghanistan starting in Bengaluru from June 14, Karthik’s confidence must be sky-high at the moment after a whirlwind past few months that have included taking India to a memorable last-ball victory in the Nidahas Trophy and leading Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to a creditable third-placed finish in his first experience of captaincy in the IPL.

Now, as Karthik gets ready to make a comeback in the white flannels more than eight years after playing his last Test in January 2010 against Bangladesh, an opportunity to make a real impression beckons.

For the tour of South Africa at the beginning of this year, the 33-year-old had lost out to Parthiv Patel for the reserve wicketkeeper’s slot, but he seems to have now overtaken the latter courtesy a string of impressive limited-overs performances in recent times.

“Although Karthik hasn’t played a Test for a long time now, he has played enough to know what Test cricket is. Most importantly, he seems to be in a very good space both physically and mentally. He has been brilliant in white-ball cricket for India in the last few months and also took on the responsibility of leading a big side like KKR in the IPL. I believe he also realises that this could well be the last opportunity for him and will want to make use of this. I have no doubt in my mind that he is ready to take this opportunity,” former India wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta told TOI on Saturday.

By Karthik’s own admission, his resurgence in form and new-found assuredness on and off the field have a lot to do with close friend and mentor Abhishek Nayar’s guidance. It was the former India and Mumbai allrounder who helped Karthik get rid of the “self-doubt” about his ability to make an India comeback.

“A Test recall means the world to him. When we started working together, we didn’t dream or imagine that he could get back into Test cricket. We were realistic with IPL and stuff. I think we will get together and start working from June 6 in Bengaluru. So he will have a good week or so to prepare leading into the Test,” Nayar said.

With the England Test series not far away, a good outing against Afghanistan could just help Karthik make the job that much harder for the selectors even when Saha recovers from his thumb injury. While it seems all but certain that he will be the reserve wicketkeeper for the England series, the TN player is also capable of playing as a specialist batsman if the need arises, just as he did during the 2007 series.

“To be honest, let’s keep Saha aside because he is by far the best wicketkeeper. But what I will say is Dinesh has also been keeping well over the last year or so. I haven’t seen him make any glaring errors. As far as the England series is concerned, it also boils down to what kind of Test match Karthik has against Afghanistan with bat and gloves. Now that he has been picked ahead of Parthiv, he is definitely going to be a part of the England Test tour. There is a lot of cricket Dinesh will play in the next two months. So there is time to see what kind of form he is in by the time the England Test series starts,” Dasgupta added.