At the time when Shikhar Dhawan and Robin Uthappa were burning bowling attacks with their scintillating stroke play for the India Under 19 side that went to Sri Lanka for the World Cup in 2004, the performances of the wicket keeper-batsman in the side was also taken note of by not only the selectors but also any cricket enthusiast who watched it. He was agile, had great technique and poise, both with the wicket keeping gloves as well as the willow and without being hyperbolic, many thought that he would be the wicket keeper-batsman that India had never had at the Test level after the retirement of Farokh Engineer. That player was Dinesh Karthik.
At the time India were playing Rahul Dravid as the wicketkeeper-batsman in the ODI side and Karthik was drafted into the side, that was to tour England in 2004 for a three match ODI series with the hosts and the ICC Champions Trophy. Karthik was at last selected in the third ODI in which he dropped the English captain Michael Vaughan once but eventually redeemed himself by completing a spectacular stumping. He was still in and out of the side but the woeful form of Parthiv Patel behind the stumps meant that Karthik was the next in line and eventually he was selected for the fourth Test versus the Australians in Mumbai in the same year. After that he was given a run in the home Tests versus South Africa and the series against Bangladesh as well. In these series, it was expected that he would score some runs but his outings with the bat were disappointing although he did an excellent job with the big gloves.
The emergence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni however put an end to any chance he might have had of making a comeback into the Test or the ODI side and after fitting in as a batsman or a second ‘keeper for some years, it was thought that Karthik would remain an unfulfilled talent in the annals of Indian cricket. However, that opportunity presented itself this year in the ICC Champions’ Trophy in England when Karthik was selected in the squad after some fine efforts with the bat for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL. He was selected as a batsman in the side and at last seemed to have fulfilled his promise as he held his own in the tough conditions in England- a country where India were blanked in all formats two years back.
It was thought that Karthik would at last have a second coming of sorts as a batsman in the limited overs side. However, that was not to be as the selectors picked Yuvraj Singh in the side and quite honestly the only player on whom the axe could have fallen was none other than Karthik. It could not have been anybody else since they are all specialist batsmen but when a proven match winner like Yuvraj was making a comeback, the selectors did not simply have a choice but to drop Dinesh Karthik. Will he ever be able to make a comeback? Of course he can, he is only 28 yet and younger than Dhoni by 4 years, so he still has a chance of making it as a wicket keeper.
Hopefully, he would not lose the hunger since he is a cricketer who has surely had a hard life.