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Updated: September 12, 2012 22:35 IST

Life’s a learning curve

Arun Venugopal
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Enjoying Every Moment Arun Karthick. Photo R. Shivaji Rao
The Hindu Enjoying Every Moment Arun Karthick. Photo R. Shivaji Rao

‘Success is only failure delayed’ for Tamil Nadu cricketer K. B. Arun Karthick

‘Being in the right space’ has become an indispensable part of the modern sportsman’s lexicon. And it’s more than merely a neat arrangement of words as Tamil Nadu cricketer K. B. Arun Karthick would tell you. After a “tough period” last season, Karthick has started afresh and the resultant clarity of thought is already reaping rewards.

The opening batsman aggregated more than 600 runs with four centuries from eight TNCA first division league matches. He was impressive in the Buchi Babu tournament as well, registering two fifty-plus scores (including a ton against Mumbai). Currently leading Tamil Nadu in the Moin-ud-Dowla tournament in Hyderabad, the 26-year-old Karthick reminisces about his journey from a boy growing up in Walajapet to sharing dressing rooms with International cricketers.

Having started out as a leg-spinner, Karthick became a specialist batsman during his under-19 days. “I started playing cricket for my school (Vedavalli Vidyalaya in Ranipet) when I was in Class VI. I went on to represent Vellore district in age-group cricket. When I was about 14, I came to the MAC Spin Foundation in Chennai. But after a few years, I grew taller and suddenly my bowling faded away,” says Karthick.

Rising from the districts

He also kept wickets whenever he was required to. For someone who plied his trade in the ‘districts’ — where the extent of exposure is clearly lesser than in the bigger cities — making a mark at the State-level was a challenge. “There was no school-level cricket and playing for the districts was a huge accomplishment. I represented the State under-19 team but a breakthrough came during my stint with Grand Slam in Chennai’s first division league during the 2006-07 season. J.R. Madanagopal, my captain at Grand Slam, helped me prepare myself both technically and mentally.”

Karthick calls the experience of staying away from home and coming to terms with an unfamiliar environment “very enriching”. “But I have no complaints. That’s what made me tough,” says Karthick, who hails from a joint family.

He had a brilliant beginning to his first-class career, scoring 149 on debut against a Karnataka attack that included Vinay Kumar and Sunil Joshi in a Ranji Trophy encounter in 2008. “I replaced M. Vijay, who was called for National duty, for that game. Although I had to sit out when Vijay came back, it was a good learning curve and the whole team was welcoming. I got one more century and a half-century that season.”

Karthick went on to have a productive second season before he suffered a slump in the third. He didn’t get many opportunities last season. “Frankly, I don’t know what happened. I was more prepared than ever. A few incidents hurt me badly but I have overcome that. A lot of credit should go to RCB (Royal Challengers Bangalore) trainer Shankar Basu who has taken my life to the next level. Technical Analyst Prasanna Agoram and cricketer S. Sriram have guided me as well.”

The RCB days

It was during his time with the IPL side, RCB, that Karthick had one of his most memorable cricketing moments. His last-ball six off Daniel Christian to launch his side into the semifinals of the 2011 Champions League T20 instantly put him under the spotlight. “I was in a state of shock and there was so much media attention. It took two days for me to recover,” he laughs.

If Karthick’s version is anything to go by, he has had a ball at RCB. “Guys like (Muttiah) Muralitharan, AB de Villiers, and Daniel Vettori are simply amazing. (Tillakaratne) Dilshan is the biggest prankster. He always cheats in the football matches at practice (laughs). Chris Gayle is aggressive on the field and more aggressive off it, in parties.”

Coming back to his career, Karthick doesn’t discuss goals. “I just want to play to my potential and enjoy every moment of the game. I firmly believe in the motto: ‘Success is always failure delayed’ and vice-versa.”

The Karthick File

Education: B.A. Economics (Guru Nanak College) and MBA (SRM University).

Idols: Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.

Favourite sports book: Steve Waugh’s autobiography Out of My Comfort Zone

Favourite films: Shawshank Redemption, The Prestige

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