In the next 12 hours, it will be 120 hours to that famous six by Dinesh Karthik to help India uplift the Nidahas trophy. 120 hours ago on the 18th over mark, every Indian and every Sri Lankan (for the glass-door wreckage) had an ‘I wish MS was out there right now’. MS has thrived in these situations and brought us victory as many times as Shastri said ‘that went like a tracer bullet’ over the last decade. But there was no MS, no heavy backlift, no heavy blade piece of wood and no powerful shots. India looked for the same result, a victory, and found a different hero with a different story. Each hero has a story that develops him into who he is. A story every nervy, anxious and tentative person would like to hear to extract inspiration to achieve his/her goals. Dinesh Karthik had a story to tell and he managed to find himself in the right place at the right time and in front of the most exciting audience.
It is said that opportunities knock when you least expect them. However, some people just create situations that make opportunities come their way. DK is one of those guys who made the opportunities come his way by getting out of his comfort zone and putting in the hard yards in Mumbai. Under the mentorship of Abhishek Nayar, DK managed to build a personality where the results didn’t affect him. He was ready to fail and that made him least susceptible to failure. Years ago, Yuvraj once told the mental conditioning coach that he was worried he wasn’t scoring enough hundreds and that failed him in key situations. When he was made to realize his role as a finisher at no. 5/6, he made noteworthy contributions. Dhoni never worried about his 50s in T20s and that is the reason he was extraordinary in situations where other would freeze to death. DK, much later in his career, was made to get out of his comfort zone where he could just go out and play natural cricket. The doors to the national cricket team were slowly closing and he knew it was time to make the opportunity come his way.
I always think about Azad Maidan and the near-by sugarcane juice stall where me and my friend, Tejas often discussed cricket, during our cricket days at VJTI. I will go back to that stall and the aura of Azad Maidan and try to relive that 8-ball heroic effort by DK.
- 18.1 – A yorker going wrong and DK pounced on it with a heavy bottom hand to hit it beyond the long-on boundary. At this point, DK stood at least above 4 to 5 ft. outside the crease.
- 18.2 – No change in stance position and DK pulled off a Dhoni again by throwing the kitchen sink just left of cow-corner for a boundary.
- 18.3 – DK stood way back into the crease and swivelled over the deep square leg like Kohli would do on any given day. It was rare. It was magical. It was all about letting the strong mind overpower the situation. It was the moment DK worked for, for over six months.
- 18.6 – The flash of a genius was yet to come. If there was ever a bet on DK playing the 360o ABD type paddle sweep (almost a scoop), the odds would be sky high. Many people who have followed DK and his cricket over the years may not have believed the shot. I didn’t. Abhishek Nayar must have. He knew how DK was doing it.
And the heroic moment of every cricketer came on the last ball of the 20th over. India needed 4 for a super over, 5 for a win and DK needed 6 to be the hero every cricketer ever dreamt off as a child. An extremely classy, effortless, perfectly balanced aerial cover drive produced the flattest six I had ever seen in my life. Sri Lankans and Indians in the stands went berserk and Tamil Nadu must have forgotten about the Kaveri issue for a brief moment. DK managed to freeze time. There was no outbreak of emotions, no celebrations. It was a quiet rise of the bat without a smile. Results didn’t matter to him. It was as if he visualized himself being in the situation and winning a tri-series final for India. As if it was routine for DK to come out and bat like he did the other day.
This wasn’t the cricketing career DK would have hoped for given he made his debut before MS Dhoni. HE played under MS in the 2007 T20 WC. As years passed by, he struggled to make it to the squad in important tournaments. His personal life went through situations that would have put a strong person into depression. But DK was stronger. A couple of years with big IPL contracts went in a flash without notable performances. His IPL value dropped by about 75% and his return to the Indian cricket team seemed extremely bleak. DK had to revive his career. It was now or never. He found the right mentor in Abhishek Nayar and his efforts in Mumbai. Comebacks aren’t easy. And that is why it is always fantastic to read about comebacks.
Life always gives an opportunity, if not today then tomorrow but only to those who do not give up, who do not lose hope. Like DK, you will always have a chance to be the hero, the rockstar you have always wanted to be. There will always be someone better than you and that’s how life goes around. It doesn’t mean there is any shame or insult in being the second or the third best. There will be a moment when you will get a chance to etch your name in the history books – the only condition being you are ready and prepared for it. It was not simple for DK, it has never been simple for anyone. More than 12 years into international cricket, DK found his best moment just last Sunday.
I wish to see him in the new role of KKR skipper and hope that a player of his calibre makes the cut to the Indian squad for 2019.