A little over eight years have passed since Dinesh Karthik last featured in a Test match. The Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper-batsman is well aware of what, or who, has kept him out of the reckoning for such a long period.
“It was a highly competitive environment at the time and there was a person named M.S. Dhoni who was breathing down my neck. He was causing a stir in world cricket at that time. He has gone on to become one of the greatest captains India has ever had. So it was not like I lost my place to a normal cricketer. Dhoni is a special cricketer and I respect him,” Karthik said here on Tuesday.
Dhoni’s retirement from Tests has opened the doors again. And with Wriddhiman Saha out injured, Karthik earned a call-up for the one-off Test against Afghanistan here.
The 33-year-old didn’t suffer from lack of motivation during his time away from Tests.
“It was a challenge because not many people come to watch you play domestic cricket. But I’ve enjoyed playing, so motivation was never a problem. Credit to Team Tamil Nadu, for putting up with me during those tough years.
“The challenge lay in trying to get Tamil Nadu into the Ranji Trophy knockouts, which kept us going,” Karthik said.
Happy for Afghanistan
The stumper supported ICC’s decision to grant Afghanistan Test status.
“Everyone knows how tough life is in Afghanistan. In spite of that, they have been able to inspire people with their performances. I’m really happy for them. It is good for the sport as well.
“Their journey to Test cricket is a fabulous story. In white-ball cricket, they have shown that they have what it takes to win tournaments. This is a tremendous achievement, given the little infrastructure they have. I hope Afghanistan gets opportunities to play more Test cricket,” Karthik said.
He dismissed suggestions that the Afghanistan spinners — the likes of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Zahir Khan — have the wood over the Indian spin attack.
“We have a lot of experience, not just in Test cricket, but also in First Class cricket. The number of matches that all the Afghan spinners have played — put together — will be fewer than the number of matches Kuldeep Yadav has played.