It’s a vital time for Dinesh Karthik in the upcoming one-off Test against Afghanistan to be played in Bengaluru from June 14-18. The veteran wicket-keeper batsman was drafted into the squad after Wriddhiman Saha suffered a broken thumb in the recently concluded Indian Premier League 2018. Karthik will be seen in the longer format after a gap of eight years.
He last played against Bangladesh back in 2010. The in-form player has been a regular squad member off late in the ODI and T20I formats and this rare chance in Tests will present him with the opportunity to make the right noises.
With India scheduled to play a 5-match Test series against England starting August 1, Karthik could go on to stake a claim in featuring ahead of first choice Saha. He has the cushion of being a better batsman and has the experience of playing in England earlier in Test matches. Having said so, a lot will depend on how DK comes up against the likes of Rashid Khan and Co. in Bengaluru.
Form of Dk a crucial factor
The middle-order batsman has been putting in the hard work for India and grabbed the opportunity well in the Nidahas Trophy, after helping India win the finale. But this is a different ball game altogether.
With the experience under his belt and a solid Ranji Trophy in 2016-17, DK will be looking to get in the thick of things. A positive player of spin, his application against the in-form Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman will be a challenge he will definitely enjoy.
The player had a very solid outing in the Indian Premier League 2018 and being in solid form at the moment, that bodes really well for the player and for India. His keeping skills too is undoubtedly strong and it was noticed with the outings he had for Kolkata Knight Riders.
Parthiv wasted his SA chance
Parthiv Patel was called up to replace Saha in the Test series against South Africa and the player did not justify his place in the side. What was baffling is he dropped chances of well set AB de Villiers off R Ashwin and while batting did not get the desired runs.
He scored a paltry 54 runs in four innings with a best score of 19. His miscued attacking intent did not pay dividends against the likes of Vernon Philander and Co. They fed him with short balls and the ploy worked beautifully. Parthiv had a real chance to show his calibre, but the southpaw fell short at a time where he seriously had to take his chances.
Afghan Test a vital challenge for Karthik
With no Virat Kohli, India is likely to play KL Rahul in his place. The Karnataka batsman made the most out of his chances representing Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2018. And with the addition of DK, the batting looks really strong for India especially when the middle-order is concerned.
DK can bring in the stability required against a tricky Afghan side, who boast of a solid bowling unit. What strikes for Karthik is that he can bring in the impetus of playing as a match-winner. The Tamil Nadu batsman was the ideal choice after Saha was ruled out.
He is an excellent player of spin bowling and his dearth of knowledge will be of big help for skipper Ajinkya Rahane. The Bengaluru pitch will assist batsmen largely and the Indians will hope to make it count. If DK can come out unscathed against the Afghans, he will boost his chances highly of being a pivotal asset in England.
Will DK dethrone Saha in England?
This question will largely be answered post this Test match. For now he looks like a safe bet for three reasons. 1) Saha’s overseas form has been a major worry; 2) The BCCI is pondering on including both keepers in the Test series against England; 3) DK will spend a lot of time in England well before as he is a part of both the T20I and ODI squad.
He will be accustomed to the conditions better and going into the Tests will benefit him. Since it’s a five-match series, there will be time to apply one’s self and given that DK is such a fighter, he wouldn’t let that window of opportunity go by. He is any day a better batsman than Saha and against James Anderson and Co. that aspect will be very crucial.
Karthik had an excellent tour in 2007
When India toured England in 2007, Karthik showed his credentials in the Test series. He amassed 263 runs in three Tests and hit three fifties. The performances will be running through his mind. He batted with a lot of precision and gusto against the new ball bowlers and put in a wave of consistency.
With Karthik in the side this term, India can utilize him well in the number 6 position and that gives them a better platform and depth in batting. He can also add quick runs when needed and bat with the tail. He is a safe bet ahead of R Ashwin and Hardik Pandya.
Saha’s overseas performances not catchy
He played his first Test against Australia outside the sub-continent in 2012 and then featured once again after MS Dhoni’s Test retirement in 2014. In three Tests in Australian conditions, he managed 111 runs at an average of 18.50.
In the Test series against Proteas in 2018, he scored 0 and 8 in the first match before getting injured. The veteran hasn’t featured in England and this series will be his first. In swinging conditions against England pacers, Saha will be tested severely.