What if we tell you that over the past few years, Team India has quite literally been dominant in World T20 cricket and has played better than most other squads but still failed to secure an ICC title after the year 2013? Shocking ain’t it? Well as sad as it can get, it is a ridiculously true fact. India’s last ICC title came way back in the year 2013 under MS Dhoni’s leadership. It was the ICC Champions Trophy that was played in England back then. Ever since then, Team India has been on the world stage and yet hasn’t so far managed to secure any title. Given the fact that the world’s most competitive T20 domestic league aka IPL is hosted by India, you will inevitably expect the ‘Men in blue to go all guns blazing and try to do better than most of their contemporaries. Ever since 2013, we have seen two changes in captaincy, multiple players coming in and going and whatnot. However, be it 2013 and now, one player who’s always been in the foray for team India as a special finisher is Dinesh Karthik.
DK has been one name who’s been playing for team India since the year 2004 and it’s actually surreal that even today in 2022 when we talk about T20 cricket, he’s one of the most valuable players around for the role of a finisher. What’s even more amazing about DK’s comeback to the Indian team is how he conquered all odds against his struggling form and made his presence felt. As far as IPL is concerned, he seemed to be a completely different player while playing for KKR. Be it the burden of captaincy or shouldering responsibilities as a senior, everything perhaps got the better of him. But his form quite literally changed drastically after he became a part of the RCB setup. In season 2022, he had been finishing games consistently for RCB and that’s been one big reason why he got the call-up for team India. Even for India, he’s played some interesting knocks when the chips were down and they certainly helped team India either resurrect their innings or win the game. Given the current form that he’s played, he’s certainly one of the favourites to be the 6th or 7th batsman for team India in the ICC T20 World Cup.
However, given the versatility India has in its pool of players in T20 cricket all thanks to IPL, it’s not going to be a cakewalk for DK in the team setup. One of the biggest gifts the team India has received in the last four years from IPL has to be the emergence of Rishabh Pant. Be it for his IPL franchise or for team India, Rishabh has played some incredible knocks and cricket lovers have loved it. His biggest heroic achievement on the cricket field has to be the way he helped team India beat Australia down under on the home turf by winning the series. It was an incredible effort from the team given the fact that they were bowled out for just 36 in an innings in the game before that. There are quite many similarities between the playing style of Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant. Both of them don’t shy away from playing unorthodox shots and at the same time, both of them have had troubles when it comes to ‘consistently’ continuing the good work on the cricket field. Yes, they might be pretty much as talented as to what a Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma are. However, consistency has been an issue for both. Some experts believe that with such kind of unorthodox ‘impact’ players, consistency shouldn’t be the judgement criteria. On the other hand, the other popular opinion is that during big tournaments when stakes are high, you need consistency to instil a sense of fear in your opponent as you can only dominate.
If one talks about current form, DK perhaps has an upper hand ahead of Pant in terms of making it into the squad. However, not just form will decide who will make the cut between Pant and DK as the first choice for WKB in the World Cup. There would be plenty of external factors. How many right-handers are playing in the squad? Do you want a leftie in the middle just to disturb the rhythm, line and length of bowlers, especially spinners who come in the middle stages of the tournament? In that case, Rishabh Pant might be the popular choice. On the other hand, what might go in DK’s favour is the combination of bowlers that we have down the order. Suppose Hardik Pandya is fully fit and playing. In that case, he and DK can certainly be a lethal combination for team India down the order and they can be followed by Axar Patel, who’s a left-armer spinning option and left-handed batsman. In this way, they get variation in terms of right-hand, and left-hand balance. Also, Axar is someone who can be used as a sort of floater in the team line-up and hence can even be pushed up the order as and when required.
With team India primarily being filled with a right-handed batsman, the gut feeling might be to have Rishabh Pant in the middle for just that combination factor. However, since Ravindra Jadeja is injured and Axar Patel becomes the first choice of an all-rounder, there’s every chance DK can make the cut as well as the finisher alongside Hardik Pandya. Well, the ultimate call is certainly with the experts and only time will tell which theory Rohit Sharma and management will prefer ahead in terms of picking between the two. However, all we can say is that it’s any day preferable to have this kind of a headache where both players are potential performers compared to situations where you don’t even have one good option because of which you need ‘fillers’ in the squad.
All we can say to team India, especially Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant is to focus on your basics and get the act right and most importantly, whoever gets a game whenever makes the most of it that day. At the end of the day, it’s country first and personal agenda next. Also with India having a dry spell when it comes to ICC tournaments for 9 years, it’s high time they get the combination right, especially with the kind of experience they have in their belt. Go for it Team India. ‘Chakde India’. Let’s relive the 2007 memories back once again. It’s high time.
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