Shastri’s and Nayar’s tips have guided Karthik on his latest comeback

Dinesh Karthik (Image credit-AP)

New Delhi: Veteran wicketkeeper batsman Dinesh Karthik, who has made it into the national side after quite some time now has performed well in the limited opportunities that he has received so far and also credited coach Ravi Shastri for his timely advice.

The 32-year-old is quite aware of the fact that he has to carry on performing well as a specialist batsman especially with young wicketkeeper batsmen like Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson in the reckoning and with former skipper MS Dhoni, still being the undisputed choice for the wicketkeeper’s spot in ODIs and T20Is.

When the veteran was asked about his latest comeback, he said, “May be it is (the last of comebacks) but I have not looked at it that way.”

He added, “If you start thinking on those lines (future in the team), you put extra pressure on yourself. I am satisfied with the way I batted in ODI series against New Zealand and would aim to do the same whenever I get the next opportunity.”

One of the few problems that the Indian ODI team has faced in recent times is to find out a suitable batsman for the number four position. While many have been tried in that spot till now, Karthik has proven that he is the man at that position in the batting order. Ever since making his debut for India in 2004, he has  made many comebacks, and the latest one in the list is this year’s Champions Trophy, where he was drafted into the side at the very last moment after Manish Pandey was out with an injury.

Although, he didn’t make it to the playing XI in the tournament, Karthik was given his opportunity in the away series against West Indies and the stylish right-hander made full use of that. Even during the recently concluded series against the Kiwis at home, Karthik got some good game time where he scored 37 in the first match followed by a patient 64 in the second as he helped India level the series.

He said, “I don’t know if it was my best ODI innings but it surely was an important one, personally as well as for the team.”

The Tamil Nadu cricketer has already joined a preparatory camp at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) to work on his fitness ahead of the ODI series against Sri Lanka next month.

Karthik also credited veteran Mumbai all-rounder Abhishek Nayar for providing him with key inputs time to time.

“In terms of feelers (for the future) from the team management, nothing has been communicated. But regarding my batting, I did have a long chat with Ravi bhai (Shastri),” said Karthik.

He added further, “He was happy with my batting against New Zealand but he said there are still areas where I can improve upon, especially maintaining the tempo of the innings since he feels I have all the shots. I agree with him and that is what I would look to do.”

Also his association with Nayar isn’t publicly known but the right-hander said that he has been working with the veteran Mumbai all-rounder for quite some time now.

“I would not be where I am without Abhishek Nayar. Working with him is an ongoing process. We discuss a lot about the game, mostly on the phone since we are both busy playing,” he said.

He added, “For example, before the New Zealand series he advised me to show intent from ball one, be very aggressive.”

Karthik has been a long servant of Indian cricket and has played under numerous captains which includes Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, MS Dhoni and now, the 29-year-old Virat Kohli.

Talking of Virat Kohli’s leadership, Karthik said, “With a leader like Virat, who has absolutely got it spot one in terms of fitness, he has built his lifestyle around it.”

“The team members are learning a lot from that and they can see the exceptional performances he has been able to give in the last 5-6 years. It has trickled down to the players,” he also said.

The standards of fitness are definitely higher than it was, 13 years back when Karthik had made his debut and the veteran adds that he isn’t quite able to understand the hype about the Yo-Yo test, in which a minimum score of 16.1 is required to go through.

“The current benchmark is pretty achievable. Anybody who puts in a bit of effort can reach that mark. There is nothing earth shattering about it. It only starts getting tougher from 17.5 onwards. There has been a lot of hue and cry about it but it is pretty achievable for most sportsmen,” he said.

Although he had last featured for India in the whites quite long ago, the right-handed wicketkeeper batsman dreams to make it to South Africa as the second-choice gloveman.

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