Dinesh Karthik has been around for a long time. Having made his debut back in 2004, before MS Dhoni, he could not get too many opportunities with the team due to his own inconsistency and the rise of Dhoni. Karthik though, has shown his ability on a number of occasions, and is a proven talent, which is why he has made countless comebacks over his career. His numbers in the domestic circuit and IPL have always been pretty good, which has allowed him to remain in the mix constantly.
Starting his Test career in 2004, Dinesh Karthik got a fair run initially, but was reduce to a reserve keeper after 2007. He made brief comebacks when Dhoni was injured and later when Dhoni retired, but couldn’t seal his place in the side, especially with the rise of Rishabh Pant.
More than Test cricket, it is the limited-overs region which has seen Dinesh Karthik make some strong comebacks. Starting his ODI career in 2004, injuries, inconsistency and the rise of Dhoni reduced Dinesh Karthik’s chances. He still managed to be a part of the side, and was also present in India’s first ever T20, winning the man-of-the-match award. Although he didn’t play the fifty over World Cup, Karthik had his chances in the T20 World Cup in 2007, but struggled with low scores and eventually lost his place to the likes of Rohit Sharma.
With Dinesh Karthik’s batting not good enough, India stopped using him as a primary batter. He was considered as a batter only for a while, and even given the chance of opening in tests. With lack of runs though, Karthik went from batter to backup keeper, and appearances were sporadic over the next few years, with Dinesh Karthik playing the odd game between 2007 and 2012. He had his moments though, coming back as a batter in 2010. His comeback was down to consistent performances in the domestic circuit, but Dinesh Karthik again failed to make use of his opportunity, leading to his exclusion from the Indian team.
From 2010 to 2012, Dinesh Karthik had no appearance in the Indian team, but made another comeback due to strong domestic performances. His comeback in 2013 was the most significant one up until that point of his career, and Karthik made good use of it, impressing in the warm-up and first game of the Champions Trophy. He had a fair run with the side and was in the squad up until 2014, when the selectors felt he was to inconsistent once again and dropped him.
The comeback in 2013, saw Karthik only play ODIs, and he did not get near the T20 and Test teams. At that moment, with other keepers emerging, the situation seemed bleak for him. He was again in the wilderness until another round of good domestic performances, Dhoni’s Test retirement, and Saha’s injury came as a blessing.
Dinesh Karthik’s comeback this time, started with the shorter formats, as Karthik faced off against Sri Lanka in 2017. This time around, Karthik had a better role and was clear as the finisher along with Dhoni, allowing him to play with more consistency. He scored consistently, and even earned a Test spot, taking the gloves against South Africa after an injury to Saha and Patel.
He continued to be in and out of the eleven, although he remained in the squad, and finally got a chance to make his big statement in the Nidahas Trophy. Facing Bangladesh, with five needed off one in the Finals, Dinesh Karthik cleared the fence in what is one of the most significant moments of his career. At 32, Dinesh Karthik made himself famous again and his role as a finisher was all but cemented. He had a good IPL after that, but couldn’t prolong his Test career, getting dropped after two Tests against England.
His white-ball continued to roll on well as Karthik used his finishing skills to win in some high-pressure moments against Australia and New Zealand, away from home. His new found form and skill earned him a spot in the 2019 World Cup. With a spot in the World Cup side, Dinesh Karthik reinvigorated his career. The happiness was short-lived though. Karthik only got three games, and in two innings he made 14 runs.
He had a moment to make a huge statement in the World Cup when he walked in to bat during the semi-finals, with India in a tough situation. Dinesh Karthik though, couldn’t make use of the moment, and was dismissed for six of 25 balls. With India crashing out in the semi-finals, the selectors decided to drop Dinesh Karthik, despite showing decent form prior to the World Cup. The emergence of Pant made things tougher for Karthik, and his international career seemed over.
With very little chance of making a comeback, Karthik forayed into commentary, but showed up in domestic cricket, and was pretty consistent. His leadership saw Tamil Nadu win the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare trophy last year, while he led them to the finals of the Vijay Hazare trophy this year.
Despite runs in both tournaments though, an international comeback looked non-existent until IPL 2022. He was picked up by the Royal Challengers in IPL 2022, and this season has been a dream one for him. With a clear idea on what needs to be done, Dinesh Karthik has walked in to bat in the back end of an innings, and struck the ball beautifully. He is providing some extraordinary finishes, and has the highest strike-rate in the tournament so far.
His finishing has made a lot of noise, and that has helped him make yet another comeback into the Indian team. With another chance to play for the national side, India’s first Man-of-the-Match winner in the T20I format will hope to make it big this time, and ensure he can stay around for the World Cup. He has taken on some of the best bowlers this season and will be coming in with immense confidence in his abilities.