Team India’s World Cup preparation seems to be on the right track as they recently won their 50-over bilateral series on the Trans-Tasman tour of Australia and New Zealand. While the Men in Blue defeated Australia by 2-1 in a three-match series, they emerged victorious by a stunning margin of 4-1 in a five-match series against the Black Caps.
Reflecting on the away triumphs, Dinesh Karthik, in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, said that confidence derived from the historic Test series victory Down Under helped the team in the ODI format.
“I think the way we played the Tests transformed into the One Day series as well. We dominated the ODI series both in Australia and New Zealand, and as a team, we ticked a lot of boxes,” Karthik quoted.
“This team has a lot of experience, this group has played many matches together and they know how to deal with situations at different times. They react to pressure situations brilliantly and this is what stood out whenever we were put under pressure at different times on the tour, We bat deep down, we have a couple of good all-rounders and the bowling attack is brilliant. Also, we have travelled well away from the subcontinent which has all helped in us winning the series,” he added.
Considering the way team management is utilizing his batting prowess lately, Karthik is likely to play the role of a finisher during the 2019 World Cup.
Talking about this role, the 33-year-old said he wouldn’t like to be branded as a batsman for certain position and his strength lies in his adaptability.
“My strength is my flexibility. As a batsman, I have to adapt to different roles and numbers and frankly, I have been around for a long time now to understand different situations. Mindset is important, I should always think about finishing games from any position. A finisher doesn’t always mean you have to take the game deep and then bash to finish. It is all about understanding situations and then adjusting your game with the aim that you have to get the job done. I think this is one area we pride ourselves on, and we want to be flexible as a batting unit,” Karthik said.
During the second ODI against Australia at the Adelaide Oval, Karthik was involved in a match-winning partnership with MS Dhoni. His cameo of 14-ball 25 was pivotal as India chased down the stiff target of 299 with four balls to spare.
“In such situations, one needs to have good intent. At the same time we did not want to play too many dot balls and as cliched it may sound, but was kept churning the strike over. We identified moments and took our chances at the right time. Everything combined well for us,” he said while recalling that partnership with Dhoni.
When asked about the learning he grasped from Dhoni by watching him from the other end, Karthik said: “See one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt from MS is to identify bowlers. There will be bowlers who will be having a good day, so it is important to give them their due. At the same time, you have put pressure on other bowlers who are not having an entirely good outing. The ability of MS to absorb pressure and then come out triumphs is amazing, a trait I’ve tried to inculcate.”
“When it comes to keeping, well, isn’t he unbelievable? Some of the stumpings he pulls off are stunning, to say the least. I don’t think it is easily replicable, it is one of the kind. Look at his head position, his balance, all these technical things are so perfect, and there is so much to learn,” he explained.
For Karthik, the biggest strength of the current Indian team is players know how to handle pressure and the ability to bounce back from precarious situations.
“For me, this is the best virtue of this side and the biggest plus for us on this tour. We were rolled over in Hamilton, we were then reduced to 18/4 in the next match, but the guys fought. They dug in and eventually we won the game. We learnt from our mistakes in Hamilton and addressed them immediately, we saw off the pressure situations and batted the entire innings. In the first T20I against New Zealand, we conceded 220 odd, but in the next game we hit back and restricted them to around 160. I believe, this team takes defeats in their stride and has the ability to bounce back with intent immediately,” he said.