Now, 16 years later, in Rajkot, Karthik scored his maiden half-century in the format, hitting 55 off 27 balls, hitting nine fours and two sixes at a strike rate of 203.7. He was also involved in a crucial stand-off with Hardik Pandya, 65 off 33 balls, as India beat South Africa by 82 runs to take the series to a grand finale on Sunday.
“Just feels good. I feel very safe in this setup. In the last game, things didn’t go according to plan, but I went and expressed myself today. I think (veteran) DK is thinking a little better He is able to assess situations better and that comes with practice, planning and experience,” Karthik said after being adjudged the ‘Player of the Match’.
When Karthik and Pandya joined forces, India were 81/4 in 12.5 overs. The pitch was everything no one would have expected the Rajkot pitch to be other than a sign for the spinners – some hustle and bustle for the fast bowlers and variable bounce all around. But Karthik, along with Pandya, turned the situation in India’s favor and scored 73 runs in the last five overs with a brilliant batting performance.
“He bowled brilliantly and made it difficult for us. It was a tough pitch to bat on. It was difficult to hit boundaries. Our openers have usually been kind enough to get us off to a good start. When I went to Hardik, Told me to take my time. It was important that players who have been around for a long time need to stand on such pitches,” Karthik revealed on the batting approach towards the end of the innings.
The wicketkeeper-batsman credited head coach Rahul Dravid, who is helping him, for creating a calm and clear atmosphere in the Indian team.
“Credit to Rahul Dravid; there’s a certain sense of calm. The dressing room is a quiet place right now. It’s important to learn to accept the pressure. It feels safe and uncluttered. That clarity and the environment helped.”
Karthik returned to the India set-up after producing a fine finisher as a specialist finisher for Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2022. There is no doubt that Kartik is looking forward to the series finale on his new ‘Gharlu Maidan’.
“Bengaluru is a home ground for me. I haven’t played with RCB but have played a lot there. It’s good to see the bilateral series going down in the final. To see the pressure absorb in the third and fourth game was something like Which we would love.”
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