KOLKATA: Dinesh Karthik was having lunch on Monday with his wife and Kolkata Knight Riders CEO Venky Mysore when Dipika’s phone rang. Her father was on the other side and conveyed the good news that almost had Karthik jumping with joy. He had reasons to be elated, for it was after 12 years that Karthik had made it back to India’s World Cup squad.
“It is a special occasion. I am really lucky and grateful,” he stated during an interaction with select media persons at KKR’s team hotel on Tuesday.
Looking back, the wicket-keeper batsman pointed out that his (second) World Cup journey had begun two years back.
“My journey for the 2019 World Cup began when I returned to the Indian team in 2017. I started believing that if I do something special, I can be part of this amazing team that will play the World Cup,” he said. Many felt Karthik had missed the World Cup bus when he was ignored for India’s home series against Australia as the selectors named Rishabh Pant as the wicket-keeper. Karthik, however, insisted that it was planned that way and hence he did not feel disappointed.
“The chairman (MSK Prasad) called me up and said that ‘we have decided to give both the wicket-keepers equal opportunities’. Prasad made it clear that they will be giving me an opportunity on India’s tour of Australia and New Zealand, and irrespective of my performance, Rishabh (Pant) will be given his chance in India’s home series against Australia. It was very clear communication and I liked the clarity,” he stated.
Although Prasad indicated on Monday that Karthik had been picked as a cover for Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Tamil Nadu player said that he is ready to take up any role that the team management may assign to him. “Look, as far as MS Dhoni is concerned, I am just that small first-aid kit that will travel with the team. If he (Dhoni) gets injured then I will be the band-aid for a day,” Karthik said in a lighter vein. “I am, however, aware that I can bat at No. 4 or be the finisher, if given an opportunity. Post IPL, I will prepare everyday knowing and believing that I can deliver purely as a batsman as I have performed that role earlier,” he said.
Talking about his role of a finisher in which he excelled in the Nidhas Trophy, Karthik said “a lot of credit should go to Abhishek Nayar for making me play the finisher’s role. He made me believe that it was a skill that I could acquire if I practice in a certain way and learn to a few types of shots. However, I never planned to be a finisher. I just tried to be consistent and deliver in crunch situations.”
In spite of nationwide talks about a selection war between him and Pant, the two never discussed it when they met during IPL. “There will always be someone who will miss out. That’s the nature of the game. But we (Pant and I) never talked about it. He was aware of his opportunity and so was I. If he had been selected, I would have been disappointed. Now that I have been selected, I’m sure he is a bit disappointed,” Karthik said.
Karthik, however, sees a bright future for the Delhi boy and is also keen to share the India dressing room with Pant after the World Cup.
“Pant is a special player. I am sure he is going to play for India for a long time. If I can play along with Dhoni, why can’t we two (Pant and I) also share the dressing room post World Cup,” he said.
Having Vijay Shankar in the squad is an added advantage for Karthik. “At least I will have one guy with whom I can speak in Tamil and go out for my dosa and idli consistently.”