People don’t think commentators can be good cricketers, but I’ve done what I have done, says Dinesh Karthik

The veteran wicketkeeper-batter — who has had his most explosive IPL season with the bat — says he wanted to finish on a good note; adds that the commentary stint has helped him become a better cricketer and a better person

Updated - May 21, 2024 05:48 am IST

Published - May 20, 2024 09:57 pm IST - BENGALURU

Royal Challengers Bengaluru batsman Dinesh Karthik.

Royal Challengers Bengaluru batsman Dinesh Karthik. | Photo Credit: K. Bhagya Prakash

In Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s rise from the dead — winning six matches on the bounce to storm into the playoffs — Dinesh Karthik’s has been an integral role. His 315 runs have come at a strike-rate of 195.65, his best across 17 seasons. The veteran wicket-keeper batter spoke to The Hindu ahead of Wednesday’s Eliminator against Rajasthan Royals.

Is there one single moment that helped change things?

I thought the SRH [Sunrisers Hyderabad] game midway... they scored 280 [287]. The way we came back with the bat [262] gave us confidence. Post that, we kind of turned it around. Even though the next result didn’t go our way [one-run loss to KKR], it worked for us as a team.

Did the freedom of playing every game as if there was nothing to lose help?

Definitely not going to say no. It was a place where you had nothing to lose. So why not do things differently. Though, you have to back that up with skill. It’d look rather silly if you don’t pull it off. You could definitely lose a lot of your pride and dignity.

We always knew we were a team with good skillsets. Though, there is no point having that in the shed and not bringing it to the ground. The support staff encouraged us to do that and the senior players have followed it up with their work on and off the field.

IPL-17 has been one of your best seasons. What have you done differently?

It is about understanding what the bowlers are trying to do when I come in and trying to counter that. Getting fitter and stronger are two things I have done off the field. I came in with this taboo of a commentator being a player. There was a lot of scepticism. That really challenged me. Not many would have been a commentator, gone on to represent their country in a World Cup and then had a good IPL season. Last year, it wasn’t a good IPL. So it was also about responding to all the questions that were asked.

Has commentary helped your cricket?

Yes. To the point where I realised that you don’t need to take what’s being said about you too seriously. A lot of things are said in jest, and are not personal attacks. And you rub shoulders with the likes of Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain, Ian Bishop and others. You not only learn about cricket but also about how they handle life. It increases your worldly knowledge and also helps elevate your self-esteem when you are talking to the world.

What drives you as a player? Do you take inspiration from other sportspersons?

Michael Jordan’s The Last Dance inspired me quite a bit. The reason to play sport changes at different points. For the longest time, it was about representing India and becoming the best wicketkeeper-batter. There were many who felt I couldn’t make a comeback and I pushed myself for that. Last season, it didn’t go well, so I wanted to finish on a good note. People don’t think commentators can be good cricketers, but today, I have done what I have done.

I don’t say a lot of things outside, but internalise and push myself. Like, on a day when I am doing commentary, I wake up at 6 and run. There is no need for that because I just have to talk about the game. But if I have to play IPL, I have to run.

If RCB goes all the way, will you play one more year?

It’s tricky. I don’t want to think too far ahead. I know what my endgame is and I will leave it at that.

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