Returning to the Indian national team after a scintillating performance in IPL 2022, Dinesh Karthik expressed his gratitude for being able to wear the blue shirt once again, 18 years after he made his debut for the national team as a teenager in an ODI at Lord’s in 2004. One of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s star performers on their playoff run in the IPL, the 37-year-old’s return to the T20I set-up has already produced dividends in the series against South Africa. After a cameo in the second T20I, Karthik produced a match-winning innings in 4th T20I in Rajkot on Friday to help India draw level in the five-match series.
In a video shared by the BCCI, he revealed how positive the experience has been under Rahul Dravid’s coaching tenure.
“I am very happy, very proud. It’s an incredible atmosphere and team to be part of,” he had said ahead of the match. “For about three years, I’ve been looking from outside. I’ve been looking at how special feeling it must be to be a part of this team. I am enjoying and very grateful for every second I am here.”
Karthik came in to bat when India were 81 for 4 in 12.5 overs and in desperate need of a partnership and that too in quick time. Karthik joined hands with Hardik Pandya and provided just that. The right-hander hit nine fours and two sixes in his 55-run knock off just 27 balls. “I think, I’ve been dropped so many times and I always wanted to make a comeback into the Indian team,” he explained. “I think that has been my biggest drive, whenever, whether I’ve played domestic, whether I’ve played IPL.”
In the IPL this season, having joined RCB, he scored 330 runs at a strike-rate of 183.33, the best in the league.
Before this series, he made his last appearance in a T20I in 2019 against Australia, and his last appearance in any format in the ODI World Cup 2019. “The urge, the fire in the belly in terms of wanting to come back here, wear the national colours and represent the India team is something that I dream of everyday, and that is what has kept me going consistently in the last decade or so.”
“I have always found ways to try and enhance my game. I had people around me who have really helped me in my journey. They are some very special people. They have also been part of the journey, part of the ups and downs and the fact that I have always wanted to get back to the Indian colours. The shining light in my life for a very long time.”
Dinesh Karthik made his T20I debut in 2006, in India’s very first match in the format. He scored 31(28) against South Africa as a 21-year-old, even earning man-of-the-match in a low-scoring contest as he helped the team chase down 127. “It’s almost a decade and a half, a lot of things have changed. It’s a good feeling to know that you have played the first T20I for the country and now you are playing South Africa again. It’s a lovely feeling.” Karthik would go on to be a member of the team which won the 2007 World Cup a few months later.