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Cricketer Dinesh Karthik has made a dazzling comeback after being written-off as a serious contender in international cricket. On the verge of being a had-been, Dinesh soldiered on, playing in Madurai local cricket, and taking a shot at commentating. But then he has come back in style not unlike Kamal Haasan in Vikram.

It was the year 2020. Dinesh Karthik, the Tamil Nadu cricketer who had been pushed to the fringes of Indian cricket, was having a torrid season as the captain of Kolkata Knight Riders. He left the tournament midway and returned to Chennai from Dubai after his wife Dipika Pallikal had a miscarriage.

A gloomy looking Karthik returned to re-join the team but gave away captaincy to Eoin Morgan. DK’s career was on a freefall. With the emergence of Rishabh Pant and Ishan Kishan, it was perhaps time for DK to hang up his boots.

Two years later, Karthik made a comeback into the Indian T20I side and smashed his first international 50 in the shorter format of the game. All this on the back of a stellar IPL campaign as a finisher when he notched up a whopping 330 runs with a strike rate of over 180. In two years, he has re-emerged, re-invented and for once everyone knew who was writing the scripts.

His comeback has similarities to that of Kamal Haasan through Vikram — a blockbuster return and burst of nostalgia after a period of lull. When Haasan returned he had a stellar cast of Vijay Sethupati and Fahadh Faasil to chip in with strong performances. In team India, the likes of Rishabh Pant and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar play their parts. Director Lokesh Kanagaraj weaved a universe where Kamal Haasan could have fun. The Indian set up did just that for finisher DK.

In 2022, Karthik made a comeback into the Indian T20I side and smashed his first international 50 in the shorter format of the game. All this on the back of a stellar IPL campaign as a finisher when he notched up a whopping 330 runs with a strike rate of over 180

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Dinesh Karthik hit 55 off 27 deliveries to record his maiden T20I fifty and helped India level the series against South Africa in Rajkot.

“It’s 2022 and Dinesh Karthik is still making comebacks to the Indian squad. One of the most fascinating international careers of this century continues to wage on and unlike with some there’s no question of who’s writing his scripts. For, you know he’s doing it himself,” Bharat Sundaresan of Cricbuzz on Twitter.

For someone who began his career in 2004, it had been a long wait for a T20I half century. DK last played in the blue jersey in 2019 against Australia. And due to Covid and partially due to lack of opportunities, he found himself on the sidelines. Form of multi-skilled players such as all-rounder Hardik Pandya and opener-keeper KL Rahul meant the chances were slim for DK.

Many experts point to the fact that being a full time commentator (and part-time weatherman) during the India-England series helped his course.

“When he [DK] wasn’t playing in the IPL, he played a lot in domestic T20 cricket. When even those matches were over, he went to Madurai and many other places to play local cricket. He wanted to practice on open wickets, as much as he could. He has set a standard by showing such grit, determination and brilliance to make a return to the Indian team,” Sanjay Bangar, the head coach of RCB, said during a TV programme.

Karthik was part of the team, which India fielded in its maiden T20I, which was also against South Africa in Johannesburg in 2006. How did he manage to prolong his career? What led to this turnaround?

Many experts point to the fact that being a full time commentator (and part-time weatherman) during the India-England series helped his course.

During his time away from cricket, DK enrolled himself in a special training to nurture his game as a finisher. As a no 6 or no 7, one gets 15-20 balls against the best death bowlers. The scoring gets tough and there is no time to settle in.

“He was also training so he left the hotel gym because it wasn’t good enough. He wanted to do some special training. He went and got himself enrolled in a club,” said Sunil Gavaskar, who was part of the commentary panel in England during a show.

“With a career in commentary assured, DK is now playing as if he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Even though he is 36, he may even go on to play for a few more years,” former chief selector MSK Prasad was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz.

After the recent setbacks and countless past experiences, it was perhaps only fitting to see DK surpass Mahendra Singh Dhoni to become the oldest Indian batter to score a half-century in T20 Internationals.


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