Dinesh Karthik’s scintillating innings in the final of the Nidahas Trophy 2018 has started calls for him to replace the aging MS Dhoni in the T20I format.
Sandeep Patil was the India A coach back in 2004, when he was asked by then chairman of selectors Syed Kirmani, who should replace Parthiv Patel for the Champions Trophy, MS Dhoni or Dinesh Karthik.
Dhoni wasn’t even the first choice wicketkeeper in the India A team that was touring Zimbabwe during that time, while Karthik had impressed Patil with his flashy stroke play.
Recalling that moment, Sandeep Patil said to Times of India, "I called Dinesh in the hotel room in Harare that evening, and told him: 'I got a call (from the selectors), and I've suggested your name. I wished him all the best. After that, I called Dhoni too to my room, and explained to him that why did I suggest Karthik's name, and not his. I told him that his turn would come too, and that he will get his chance. I told him that as a coach, it's my duty to tell you that the reason being sending Karthik is that he's scored a hundred, and he was keeping wickets, whereas he hadn't played. Dhoni came into the limelight after Dinesh left, and we went to Kenya, where he blasted everyone.”
Talking about why Karthik made way for Dhoni only a year later, Patil said, "He was a different Karthik back then. It happens to a lot of players, that when they get a call to play for the Indian team, they suddenly feel that they need to play straight. They tend to forget their original style. They think that this is international cricket...they're representing India. Karthik cut down his flair, which was his USP and then he went to personal problems which didn't help."
Patil continued, "The biggest fear for young players is that if I play a shot, I'll get out. That fear wasn't there in Dinesh while playing in the Ranji Trophy and for India A. On that Zimbabwe tour he hit a brilliant hundred. I'd also watched his 160-odd innings against Mumbai also at the Wankhede Stadium (in 2004). I was really impressed by him. Luckily, Mahi (Dhoni) was also on that Zimbabwe tour."
Talking about the current comparison between Karthik and Dhoni, Patil said, “Dinesh seems to have settled shown…and he has provided the team management and the selectors a reliable option. The performance in a final will definitely do a lot for Karthik."
However, when it came to choosing between Karthik and Dhoni, this time Sandeep Patil went for MS Dhoni and justified, "That said, I will still go with Dhoni. Unfortunately in the ICC events, 17 or 18 players can't be picked. I want Dhoni to play in 2019 WC, his fitness is fabulous, his exploits have gone down a bit but it happens with every cricketer. The experience he has...he can still deliver under pressure because the pressure during a World Cup is completely different and Dhoni has been."