Nothing can match playing for country: Kartik

Left-arm spinner has been one of the stand-out spinners in IPL III

Nothing can match playing for country: Kartik

Murali Kartik

Retired former skipper Anil Kumble leads all-comers, conceding just 6.11 runs an over. Immediately behind him is left-arm spinner Murali Kartik, at 33 one of the forgotten soldiers of Indian cricket, whose economy rate is 6.51, even if eight matches have yielded him just six wickets.

Kartik has missed the Kolkata Knight Riders’ last three games with a groin injury, but Sourav Ganguly’s primary weapon should be fit for the next contest, a must-win game on Tuesday in Chennai against the Super Kings.

The inopportune injury hasn’t dampened his spirit. “It is frustrating, yes, and disappointing,” Kartik told Deccan Herald. “It's always been very freakish, the kind of accidents and injuries I've had.

“This injury was made more serious by a fall in the bathroom,” he laughed. “Sometimes, I just stop thinking about it or looking for any logic, it's just my destiny. Otherwise, the bowling has been fine. This is the way I know to bowl and that's what I try to do in every game. When I look at my figures in IPL I don't have too many wickets, the economy is very good.”

The top three in the IPL economy chart are all spinners. “Batsmen probably think we're cannon fodder and this plays into our hands,” Kartik offered. “I don’t do anything different in T20 cricket. Personally, my belief is that I have to be switched on. It's a thin line between trying for wickets and being economical. My simple theory is that if I can bowl four overs for 24 everytime, I've done the job for the side. It doesn't happen everytime, but that’s the mindset, the mentality. All you're trying to do is create pressure and bowl a ball that will minimise damage.”

Kartik threw light on how he planned an over. “You back your instincts,” he remarked. “People have asked me whether I gamble in life. I don't. The only time I gamble is when I bowl, because that's what I'm supposed to do. At the end of the day, T20 will help bowlers because you have to be a master of your skill under pressure. That's why I say I need to try and second-guess the batsman.”
Railways skipper Kartik hasn’t played for India since the one-day series against Australia at home in November 2007. A regular on the English County circuit -- after two seasons with Lancashire and three with Middlesex, all on the trot, Kartik will turn out for Surrey this year -- the classical left-arm conceded that while County cricket somewhat made up for not playing for the country, it was far from his final destination.

“There's no question that I miss international cricket,” Kartik admitted. “If you’ve played for India and have done well at that level, there’s no other place where you want to play. Sometimes, you might think you don't belong at the international level because you've not had a good time there. But if you have, then nothing can match it.”

Asked how he had come to terms with not being a part of the Indian team, he replied, “I have not. I wouldn't say I'm frustrated or disgruntled. But when people say you're the best spinner around and then my name isn't on the India list, that is sometimes amusing. Playing County cricket has slightly filled that void because you're challenging yourself against top quality batsmen. But it can never make up for not playing for India.

“I feel I have to perform each time just for personal pride. I don't go into a game thinking I need to take 10 wickets in a first-class game or three for 20 in a T20 match. The only thing I want is when I come off the park, people should say 'well bowled'.”

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