Right from the time he made his debut for India in the home Test series against the visiting South Africans in 2000, Murali Kartik has been regarded as one of the most talented left arm off spinners in the country. Although he has not been able to become a regular in the Indian team, he has given a good account of himself in the IPL over the last 6 seasons of the tournament. He has played for three teams so far- the Kolkata Knight Riders for the first three seasons, then he moved to the Pune Warriors for a season and this year he moved to the Royal Challengers Bangalore after a two year spell with the Pune outfit. One of the most important developments in his bowling has been his willingness to mould his ultra attacking bowling style to the defensive needs of a twenty over game.
The pitches in India are understandably at their driest during the months of April and May, when the IPL usually takes place and hence it is necessary for a team to have a crafty spinner in their ranks who can take advantage of those conditions. In that regard, Murali Kartik is the sort of bowler who can take advantage of turning wickets with his skill and guile, while on the other hand he can dry up the runs as well with his accurate bowling. However, the nature of T20 is such that any bowler can get clobbered once in a while but it is rare to see Kartik being taken to the cleaners by any batsman and for a spinner that is a great achievement. He can open the bowling if need be and is usually a steady bowler in the middle overs, which allows his captain to plan that part of the innings around him.
Kolkata Knight Riders bought him for the first three seasons of the tournament for $425,000. However, even after his commendable performance in an otherwise not too impressive bowling unit, he was not retained. In the 2011 auction, the Pune Warriors bought him for $400,000 but strangely he was deemed surplus to requirements at the Sahara owned franchise and in 2012 he went over to the Royal Challengers Bangalore for the same yearly amount of $400,000.
Kartik’s best outing came in his very second match in the first season of the IPL when he took 3/17 at the Eden Gardens against the Deccan Chargers. It was an unusually sluggish pitch that day and Kartik proved to be tough customers as he went on to claim the prized scalps of Adam Gilchrist, Rohit Sharma and Sanjay Bangar to set the game up nicely for the KKR.
After the high of the 2009 and the 2010 seasons when he had performed as a remarkably steady bowler with economy rates of 5.91 and 6.48, the 2011 season with the Pune Warriors turned out to be a bit of a dampener. However, he has pulled back his economy rate to some extent over the next two seasons. At the end of the day, an economy rate of 7.06 across 54 matches is surely the credentials of a bowler who is not easy to hit out of the park with regularity. The wickets column is however not that impressive and Kartik would surely like to improve that in the following seasons.
Did you know?
Murali Kartik is the only Indian cricketer who has dismissed a batsman twice by running him out for backing up too much; he did this once in the County Championships and more recently in the ill tempered game against Bengal in a domestic game. He is married to Shweta who hails from New Delhi and is an alumnus of Hindu College, Delhi University.
By Soham Samaddar