Karthik keen on making second chance count

Karthik keen on making second chance count

BACK IN THE FOLD: Wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik during India's practice session at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Tuesday. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

Dinesh Karthik is on the verge of breaking a national record -- an unwanted one though. When he dons the wicketkeeping gloves for the historic Test match against Afghanistan starting Thursday, he'll surpass Parthiv Patel for having missed the most games by an Indian cricketer.

While Parthiv missed 83 Tests before he got one against England last year, Karthik has seen 87 Tests go past him since he last turned up for India in whites way back in January 2010. Enjoying a great second wind in his career that has seen his stock rise exponentially over the last few months, the 33-year-old candidly admitted he deserved to be sidelined as he wasn't good enough then.

"I guess I did not perform well enough before," Karthik said at a press conference here at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Tuesday. "I wasn't consistent enough. There was a highly competitive environment and there was a person called MS Dhoni breathing down my neck who was causing a lot of stir in world cricket at that point in time. He has gone on to become probably one of the greatest Test cricket captains India has ever produced.

"So, it's not that I lost my place to some normal cricketer. He has been a special cricketer over a period of time and I respect him for that. Just the fact that I couldn't at that stage produce enough performances to hold on to my place. I think I need to be honest with myself. I think I wasn't as good then. I have another opportunity now and I guess I will try to do my best. It feels very good to wear the whites. To be part of the Test team is something I’ve always dreamt of. I'm really happy and just thankful to the people who have stood by me over the years," added the Tamil Nadu batsman.

Soon after the Afghanistan Test, the Indians will leave for Ireland and England. Against England, India will play five Test matches where Wriddhiman Saha will be the first choice keeper if he recovers from his right thumb injury. When asked if he's thinking about keeping Saha out, Karthik laughed and said he's just focussed on his own game.

"I think if you go deep into that question and figure out what I can do to keep another person out of the team, then you’re taking energy away from the fact that you’re competing with somebody. That puts a little bit of extra pressure than what is already there. What I’m looking to do, as clichéd as it sounds, is to be the best cricketer I can be -- not only on the field but off the field. I’m trying to be consistent there, where even if I don’t get the opportunity, even if I don’t end up playing at the highest level, I want to be content with the fact that I’ve given it everything.

"They keep saying do your processes and things will follow, so I’m just doing what I think is right. Because I'm on that journey, I've not thought about (keeping Saha out). If I try to think about how I can keep my place and keep someone else out, it becomes very subjective, I need to score, here, there etc. I don’t want to keep it that way. I just want to make the best use of the opportunities I get."

Karthik said the hard grind of domestic cricket over the last decade kept him good stead. "I’ve always enjoyed playing the sport, so motivation has never been a problem. I’ve enjoyed playing the Ranji Trophy. It’s a totally different challenge. There are not many out there who come and watch you play, you play because you enjoy the sport which I’ve always done subconsciously. I’ve enjoyed being part of team Tamil Nadu. Credit to them as well for having put up with me through those tough years. I’m really indebted to them.