BENGALURU: To make a comeback, one of the most essential requirements is a setback. For proof, you don’t have to look beyond Dinesh Karthik. In a T20 international career in its 17th year, the 37-year-old has played 36 matches. Before the ongoing series against South Africa, the wicketkeeper-batsman had last featured for India in the format in the 2018-19 season.
After making a comeback on the back of his exploits in the Indian Premier League for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), Karthik is not just achieving personal milestones, but has also turned out to be an inspiration for a young Indian team.
Having piloted India’s charge with a 27-ball 55 in Rajkot on Friday night, Karthik will look to play his part at ‘home’ in the series decider at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Sunday night. RCB have a loyal legion of supporters and they will expect fireworks from Karthik, in the first T20 contest here since September 2019. The last match played here was incidentally between the same two sides with the visitors winning by nine wickets.
While the series is interestingly poised, and on paper a cracker of a contest is expected, nature will have to be kind for a full contest. Bengaluru has been under the monsoon cloud cover over the past few days with rain being the order in the evenings. In fact, heavy showers greeted the two teams on arrival here on Saturday.
With 80 per cent chance of rain predicted after 6pm on Sunday, both teams will hope for the prediction to be proved wrong. The match will be played on the centre pitch which was mostly under covers on Saturday. This would mean some amount of moisture on the surface, which could be helpful for the bowlers early on.
The weather notwithstanding, South Africa, who have been struggling with niggles and injuries to some of their key players like Kagiso Rabada and skipper Temba Bavuma, who did not return to bat in Rajkot, will look to make a comeback. After winning the first two matches, the visitors lost the plot and failed to come up with a plan to stop the resurgent home team.
After drawing flak for their wayward bowling, the bowlers have made a huge statement with their performances in Visakhapatnam and Rajkot. Yuzvendra Chahal (3/20) and Harshal Patel (4/25) turned on the heat in Vizag, while pacer Avesh Khan (4/18) joined Chahal (2/21) in running through the Proteas line-up in Rajkot. Not to forget the superb economy rate of lead pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has weighed in with his experience. In conditions which are familiar to this bowling attack, South Africa are bound to feel the pressure.
The Indian top order, comprising Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer, have blown hot and cold but the hosts also have a formidable middle-order with skipper Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and Karthik lending stability and firepower.
Playing a do-or-die contest on coach Rahul Dravid’s home turf, the young team will look to make a telling statement through India’s rising stars.