Not many would have given Dinesh Karthik much chance when he came into bat when India needed 34 runs off the last 12 balls of the final of the Nidahas Trophy 2018.
After Manish Pandey had perished trying to hit one from Mustafizur Rahman, who had bowled 4 dot balls in the 18th over to Vijay Shankar, Dinesh Karthik walked in to face a charged up Rubel Hossain, who was tasked with bowling the 19th over and cushion of 34 runs.
Bangladesh had no option but to bowl Rubel, with Soumya Sarkar poised to bowl the last over.
Dinesh Karthik in an interview with The Indian Express recalled those 8 balls he played in the final, where he scored 29* runs and won India the match and the tournament. Here are the excerpts from the interview.
Talking about the Rohit comment that he was angry at being asked to bat at no.7 in the final, Karthik responded, “I was a little shocked. Angry is a bit strong word, I feel. The whole tournament I had batted at No. 6 and then to see Shankar go up, I was a little bit shocked. I have a good rapport with Rohit – under his captaincy I have won the IPL. I obviously trust him a lot. I know he respects me as a cricketer. I was more shocked than angry – bit disappointed, yes. It was more like, ‘are you sure about the move as Vijay hasn’t batted the whole tournament?’ I knew there must be a reason behind it.”
Karthik was positive in his mindset when walked out to bat and said, “I was just thinking to hit every ball for a boundary, as simple as that. There was nothing else you could do other than try to get a boundary off each ball. In the dugout, I was sitting next to R Sridhar, the fielding coach, who said we need one big over, two big overs etc. By the time I went in, we needed two big overs—there was no other way. Every ball had to matter at that stage.”
He credited Abhishek Nayar for helping him and said, “Yes, he was the one who taught me. When we practised, he used to say how deep one should go into the crease as he used to do that very well. He told me how to stay deep in the crease and use the speed of the ball. I was lacking those points. In the past, I would probably step out blindly.”
Talking about the last ball, Karthik recalled, “I decided to go for the six option. I was just hoping that he (Soumya Sarkar) looks to bowl a yorker and misses it. I think a bowler trusts the yorkers the most (in those situations). The best part of the last ball was that he bowled it a bit wide, so whatever power I had, I went with it and connected. It was such a special moment. This is it, the team coming out and celebrating was something special.”
He had more praise for Nayar and said, “Dude, I think whatever little success I have had now, I owe it to Nayar. He didn’t have to do what he did for me. For him to spend time with me – why should he spend time with me? I haven’t given one rupee to him. What have I done for him? Nothing. He has helped me, been just giving me – knowledge, time, training tips, and he has done a lot for me. If I am where I am today, of course family and close friends have played a big role, but as they say, Mata, pita, guru deivam— he has been my guru over the last few years and has taught me a lot of things. I owe everything to him. Very lucky to have found somebody like him to guide me —he has gone through a lot of pain, apart from happiness, in this sport and that he could give me time was so important. He never said no to anything that I have asked. He has always been there for me. He has an unbelievable heart – the amount of stuff he does for underprivileged kids , I don’t know how many cricketers do what he does.”
Parting ways, Karthik said, “On tours, I try to stay away from social media, or reading articles etc. It’s better to stay away from it, and focus on the process, the way I diet, I practise, and I prefer to stay on that path. I genuinely don’t know what people are thinking.”