Can Dinesh Karthik replace Dhoni as a finisher?

Once upon a time, there was no better finisher in the world of cricket than India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Irrespective of the opposition, match situation, pitch, Dhoni would lead India past the victory most of the times. His cool and calm demeanor and chasing method were unreal. Dhoni’s confidence and temperament were second to none. The Ranchi-born cricketer got synonymous with the word “finisher.”

But time and tide spare none. And with time, Dhoni also started declining. At first, he needed time before he could unleash his demolishing array of strokes, which doesn’t bode well for a middle-lower order batsman who comes to crease late in the innings. But slowly and steadily, he has even lost the magical touch that once allowed him to hit big shots at will.

MS Dhoni did a reasonably good job in the Adelaide ODI against Australia. But Kohli’s knock had ensured the run-rate wasn’t as daunting. But while he was at the crease. Dhoni was finding it difficult to rotate the strike at run-a-ball.

Even during his partnership with Karthik, it was DK, who hit two crucial boundaries and also a scoop shot for three runs that prevented the run-rate from turning into something that required big hits, where Dhoni has been getting found out regularly. Karthik batted at a strike-rate of 178.57 and took off the pressure from Dhoni. Unlike, Dhoni who has failed to hit the fifth gear, Karthik has been able to clear the ropes with ease.

Dhoni is no longer able to replicate his heroics of the past but in Karthik, India have an experienced campaigner, who is perhaps at the peak of his powers. Who can forget his Nidahas Trophy heroics? We are used to seeing Dhoni pulling off such acts of brilliance but now Karthik looks more likely to accomplish such magical moments that the fans rejoiced for India than Dhoni.

Dinesh Karthik was overlooked from ODIs against West Indies. But his finishing skills in Australia T20Is reaffirmed Karthik’s value to India’s side. the Men in Blue have been struggling for a finisher big-time. In the Brisbane T20I against the Men in Yellow, the Tamil Nadu batsman played a 13-ball 30-run knock and almost got India home.

In the do-or-die Sydney T20I as well, the right-hander made 22 runs and paired up with Kohli along with cheteshwar pujara to ensure India chased down Australia’s total to level the series. The 33 years old is one of the most talented batsmen in the Indian team. He has got all the shots up his arsenal. Karthik had got out trying to pull the ball in the first ODI but when Australia attacked him again with this tactic, he was up to the challenge. In fact, both his boundaries came off short deliveries in Adelaide, which shows that he can handle pace well. And there is no doubt regarding his ability against spinners. SO, he is good against pace and spin likewise and can also change gears at will, which is how you want your finisher to be.

Karthik also has unorthodox shots up his repertoire, which is a must in modern-day cricket, where you need to be bloody good at manipulating and playing with the field. In the penultimate over, when India needed 11 off eight balls in Sydney, it was DK’s scoop shot that brought down the equation to eight runs off seven balls, thereby killing any hopes of Australia’s comeback in the game.

The stylish batsman has got well-versed with the art of finishing the games. He is a fidgety character but now he has found a way to remain cool and calm during pressure situations. One can attribute this to his time at Kolkata Knight Riders, where he captains the side and also plays the role of a finisher. Even Indian team management is looking at him as a finisher, a role earlier assigned to Dhoni. After the Sydney ODI, he said “Definitely the team management has told me this (finishing) is the role for me right now. And they want me to do the best I can. They are backing me completely. They have told me that this is where I’m going to bat and this is what they expect out of me and I’m trying to achieve that.”

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s rise literally took out a major chunk of time from someone like Dinesh Karthik’s career. After all, both were wicket-keepers and only one could play mostly. But, now it seems, at least until Dhoni hangs up his boots that both Karthik and Dhoni can play in the team. Karthik might not have been able to replace Dhoni at his peak, but he looks a better proposition than him as a finisher at the moment.

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