Much like the more decorated M S Dhoni, Karthik is wicket-keeper who bats at No.6, is calm under pressure, finishes off run-chases with a six and captains an IPL franchise. At 33, Karthik is enjoying a second wind in his career that has seen him become an invaluable cog in India’s T20 scheme of things.
At the 2018 IPL, Karthik produced a consistent run for Kolkata Knight Riders, slamming 498 runs at an average of 49.80 and a strike rate of 147.77, easily his best numbers ever in 10 years in the tournament.
KKR chased games on nine occasions in the IPL this year and came out on top five games. Each time, Karthik played an instrumental role in their victories. He made 186 runs in these games at an eye-catching batting average of 186.00, remaining not-out in four of those matches.
His strike-rate of 167.56 was better than his tournament strike rate as he plundered the opposition with his calculated assault. His scores in these games reading - 35* (29), 42* (23), 23 (10), 45* (18) and 41* (31).
The IPL was no anomaly to Karthik’s 2018 chasing record. Till this year, the KKR skipper had made runs at an average of 23.10 and strike rate of 123.33 while chasing in T20s.
This year, though, the numbers have undergone a tremendous transformation. He not only made runs at an average of 61.125 but also remained not-out in 12 of the 20 innings’ he played in the second innings, guiding his team till the very end, a factor that came to light in the Nidahas finals when he slammed a six off the final ball to take India to a win.
What’s notable is the massive transformation in strike rate that lurked below T20 standards till 2018 while chasing. Racing at 152.34, Karthik has not only kept up with modern day T20 trends but has also managed to find boundaries more frequently – the balls/boundary going from roughly every 7th ball to every 5th ball this year.
Take a glance at the list of second innings scores in T20s this year for Karthik and you get an idea of how well he has played. Seven out of his nine 30-plus T20 scores this year have come at a strike rate greater than his career strike rate of 132.5.
The consistency in scoring, the diligence to remain until the end of the run-chase, irrespective of the final result, exemplified by 12 not-outs is remarkably consistent with MS Dhoni and India might just have found the right man to step in for the CSK skipper in this format at least.
First Published: November 26, 2018, 1:28 PM IST