Taking a different turn © BCCI / IPL
A ticket booked and bid farewell, Dinesh Karthik left the team hotel to fly out from Dubai midway through the IPL 2020. His wife, Dipika Pallikal, who was in Chennai, had a miscarriage.
Thirty minutes later he was back in the hotel, apparently advised against leaving by his wife, who was flown in a week later to join him and be by his side in Dubai. During those testing times, KKR promoters Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla and Jay Mehta would call him to extend their moral support.
With a flowing beard, a gloomy-looking Karthik would often be seen standing aloof on the ground while the chase would be on in the middle. Not being in the best state of mind, his cricket was going nowhere. It was a low point for Karthik, who decided to give up captaincy, paving the way for Eoin Morgan to take over.
“No one forced me to quit the captaincy,” Karthik told Cricbuzz, rubbishing reports of the leadership role being taken away from him at the behest of KKR CEO Venky Mysore. “I have had a very good relationship with him (Mysore). He is like a father figure to me. He has treated me with only respect and love. (I have had) good treatment at KKR and it was one of my best experiences at a franchise in the IPL. ” As a mark of respect for his former team, he did not break into celebrations after hitting the winning runs in a close low-scoring game against KKR in this year’s IPL.
Since he and Dipika became proud parents of twins last year, life seems to have taken a 180-degree turn – both on the personal and professional fronts. Not being weighed down by the burden of captaincy at Royal Challengers Bangalore, who acquired his service in the IPL 2022 auctions for Rs 5.5 crore, has also helped him bring out the best of his batting skills to the fore.
In fact, he is having one of his best seasons ever.
A healthy average of 57, a staggering strike rate of 192.56 and a total of 285 runs, most of them coming in the tense finishing stages, have earned him accolades from experts who want him in the India side. His run of form has been so sensational that RCB captain Faf du Plessis once considered retiring himself out so that Karthik would come in to force things in a match.
Against Punjab Kings on Friday (May 13), he did not exactly click but it was a rare failure. “If I were a selector then I would definitely pick him for the upcoming T20 World Cup,” Sunil Gavaskar recently said.
Adding his unimpeachable wicket-keeping skills to the batting exploits, he is making a compulsive case for an India recall.
“He has been aging with maturity. He is batting quite innovatively; creativity in the placements and selection of his shots can not be escaped. His keeping has been as good as it ever was,” says MSK Prasad, himself a wicketkeeper-batsman of his time and a former chief selector. “I see he is in a very good mental space.”
Prasad goes on to back Gavaskar. “I have never seen him in such an assured state of mind. Earlier he would be in a rush. With a back-up career (commentary) assured, DK is now playing as if he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. It will benefit the team. Even though he is 36, he may even go on to play for a few more years. I would pick him. ”
It’s been a memorable year, and to make it any more memorable, he would not mind an India recall.