MS Dhoni’s gain, it can be debated, was Dinesh Karthik’s loss. As a wicket-keeper batsman looking to be India’s reply to Gilchrist, Karthik had all the ingredients to be a reliable hand in both departments. With the willow, his technical nuance was evident.
Proof of his underlined batting prowess is found in the fact that, even after Dhoni cementing his place as skipper-keeper, Karthik has been recalled as a specialist batsman alone. His batting ability stood the test of challenging pitches in England in 2007 where, as an opener, he recorded fifties in each of the three Tests to aid India in a historic series victory.
Beyond 2007, Dhoni’s rapid success soon sidelined Karthik. But for his lapse in concentration, the Chennai-born keeper would have made greater waves. As time progressed, selectors looked to hone Karthik’s batting abilities alone and fit him in the interim as a specialist batsman, aside from being Dhoni’s stand-in behind the sticks. Still, his role was limited to playing second fiddle and continuous stop-starts stunted his progress on a personal front, while, along with Parthiv Patel, he became proof of India’s embarrassment of riches in talent behind the stumps. He was picked up by Mumbai for the 5th edition of the Indian T20 league as a specialist wicket-keeper but sent shock-waves in the cricketing world when he was grabbed for a whopping 12.5 crores by the Delhi franchise for the 7th edition of the Indian T20 League.
In-and-out of the national team didn't affect his performance in the domestic circuit where he continued to pile on the runs. After Delhi, Bangalore bought him for a huge sum in 2015, followed by the Gujarat Lions. With plenty of experience behind, DK landed the captaincy of Kolkata in 2018 and he took his team almost to the glory, only to get knocked out in Qualifier 2.
It turned out to be a fruitful 2018 for Karthik as he once again got the opportunity to represent India when the selectors decided to rest Dhoni for the Nidahas Trophy. His 8-ball 29 which included a last-ball six in the final led India to the T20 tri-series win and DK staked his claim for the role of a finisher in the team. Considering his experience and composure in pressure situations, Karthik was selected ahead of Rishabh Pant for the second-choice wicket-keeper in India's World Cup squad for 2019.