Karthik replaces injured Saha, set to play Test after eight years.
Chennai: Dinesh Karthik celebrated his 33rd birthday on Friday, but the best gift reached him the next day when BCCI selectors handed the wicket-keeper batsman a Test recall. Karthik will be donning the India whites after eight years when Ajinkya Rahane & Co. take on Afghanistan in the one-off Test at Bengaluru from June 14.
As Wriddhiman Saha’s thumb injury requires a recovery period of five to six weeks, selectors picked Karthik — who last played a Test in 2010 against Bangladesh — as replacement. Bengaluru match will see an end to the longest wait as no other Indian missed 87 Tests before coming back into the XI.
For someone who made his international debut as a teenager, Karthik had to wait 14 years for his dream season. His eight-ball innings in the final of the Nidahas trophy took him to dizzy heights in March and the TN cricketer enhanced his growing reputation as finisher during IPL-11 where he also led Kolkata Knight Riders admirably.
Karthik had a strong desire to return to Test side as he averaged 55.04 in first-class in the last two seasons. Along with his dream of representing India again in the 50-over World Cup, Test return remained on top of his wish list. “I am looking for another opportunity in Test, either as a batsman or batsman-wicketkeeper. I am working hard to achieve this. With the range of shots I have for a middle-order batsman, I think I can make an impact,” Karthik had told this newspaper last year upon his return from the West Indies tour.
Former India stumper Deep Dasgupta said Karthik was the most viable option. “He has had a good domestic season and fantastic IPL. Karthik has done well with India’s limited-overs team recently,” Dasgupta told espncricinfo.
Dasgupta also expects Karthik to make it to the Test squad for England and Australia. “A few wicket-keepers have been breathing down the neck of Saha for the last two years. The perception is that Saha is not the best batsman among them. And I don’t think the South African series was great for Parthiv Patel (Saha’s replacement),” he said.
During the England series of 2007, Karthik made four half-centuries in six innings.