14 Years or 8 Balls? The story of Dinesh Karthik
"A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work".
Dinesh Karthik arrived in international cricket back in 2004 after he led the Indian under-19 side in the World Cup. The Indian team had all bases covered but the wicketkeeping void was yet to be filled. A prodigy arrived, it was his debut series when Dinesh Karthik flew to stump England's Michael Vaughan, the world noticed the arrival of a stupendous wicketkeeper.
Karthik announced his arrival in incredible fashion but Indian cricket was destined to witness something extraordinary. "Karthik or Dhoni", India's former skipper Sourav Ganguly was asked. Ganguly's decision brought a halt in Dinesh Karthik's career but the betterment of Indian cricket began at a rapid pace. Dhoni's rise meant that DK had to make way for the long-haired wicketkeeper.
Karthik had his eyes sight on an international comeback. He was eventually given another chance to represent India in their maiden T20I game. The Tamil Nadu batsman scored an unbeaten 31 to take his side home. He then traveled to England where he was given the task of opening the batting. Karthik played as a specialist batsman and responded by topping the run charts.
Now, the Captain, Dhoni carried on his merry way and Karthik had to spend his time on the sidelines. He made another comeback in the 2009 Champions Trophy but his failures continued to haunt him. Between June 2009 to August 2010, DK scored 678 runs from 26 games at an average of 30.81. He missed the opportunity to be in India's World Cup squad in 2011.
Once again Karthik found himself in domestic cricket. He performed tremendously for Tamil Nadu, owing to which he returned to the Indian side for the 2013 Champions Trophy in England. He scored two centuries in two warm-up games but again lost his place after successive failures. On this occasion, his domestic performances didn't help him as he succumbed under pressure.
Karthik worked with Mumbai all-rounder Abhishek Nayar who had already helped out a lot of batsmen from Mumbai. The current Kolkata Knight Riders skipper scored 600 odd runs in 9 limited overs fixture in 2016/17 which earned him a place in the Indian side for the 2017 Champions Trophy. The man of comebacks did not get a single game in the tournament as India finished second.
18 March 2018, Colombo, this game against Bangladesh in the Nidahas Trophy defined Dinesh Karthik's 14-year-old career. A boy who came to international cricket as a prodigy was now in a situation where his team needed him do something which would create an impact for the years to come. The Men in Blue required 34 runs off the last 12 deliveries.
With a few crores Indians glued to their television sets Karthik produced magic. A herculean effort from DK helped the visitors to win the tri-series. The 32-year-old scored 29* off 8 balls with the help of 2 fours and 3 sixes. The final ball six attracted comments like "Karthik does a Dhoni", despite his heroics Karthik couldn't have all the spotlight. He earned something more valuable than the spotlight, he earned fans.
Later in 2018, he was named the Captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders. The KKR bid adieu to their beloved skipper Gautam Gambhir and DK as skipper came as a shock to them. Karthik for the umpteenth time proved his mantle by leading the Knights to the playoffs. He scored 498 runs in 16 innings and was the top scorer for KKR.
Karthik's career has been full of ups and downs but the will to carry on is something which makes him special, better than others. Whenever you feel like giving up, think about Dinesh Karthik.
Happy Birthday, DK!