It is not often that a player draws flak for scoring the winning runs but India’s wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik clearly has not made himself popular by leaving Sachin Tendulkar stranded just four runs short of a century in the third ODI against Sri Lanka.
India won the third ODI comfortably in Cuttack but an over-zealous Karthik finds himself at the centre of a debate on whether he should have allowed Tendulkar to complete what could have been his 46th ODI century.
Former cricketers reckoned that Karthik could have given more strike to Tendulkar since there were still some overs left but were not willing to be too harsh on the young keeper whose priority was to take India to victory.
“Karthik’s not mature enough. He could have given more strike to Tendulkar to complete a well-deserved hundred.
Karthik was too excited to finish off the game himself,” former spinner Bapu Nadkarni said.
Karthik (32 not out), hit the winning runs — a four — to leave his illustrious partner stranded at an unbeaten 96 in a team total of 242 for three.
Nadkarni wondered why Karthik went for a six the over before the target was achieved.
“What was the need for that shot at that stage?” wondered Nadkarni, who was known for his accuracy in bowling.
He was referring to the Tamil Nadu player stepping out to rookie off spinner Suraj Randiv and lofting the bowler over the long-on fence in the 42nd over that brought down the target.
Tendulkar hit a four off Lasith Malinga, bowling the 43rd over, when India needed seven to overhaul Sri Lanka’s modest total of 239 and then got a single to third man to give the strike to Karthik.
Karthik played out a dot ball before glancing the sling-arm action bowler for a four off the fourth ball to leave India victors with more than seven overs to spare.
Another former Test player Chandu Borde felt it was not deliberate on the youngster’s part to deny Tendulkar his coveted three-figure mark in his 439th ODI.
“It would have been good if Tendulkar had scored a century. Karthik did it in his excitement, I presume. It was due to inexperience and was not deliberate. Such things happen in one’s excitement to reach the target,” Borde added.
Former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar said Tendulkar should have accelerated the pace of scoring when he was in the 80s.
“You don’t want to miss a hundred whatever age you are and I think this is where it brings glory to the team, to the individual and to the country”, Gavaskar said.
“May be he should have gone a little more aggressive at that stage and got to the hundred. When he was in the 80s, he should have taken the batting powerplay because that would have allowed him to go over the top and get to the hundred,” Gavaskar said.
Another former India player Abbas Ali Baig felt that Karthik could have given the strike to Tendulkar but cricket was a team game and such things do happen.
“It is always good if your teammate can hit a century. I am quite sure that Dinesh must have gone and asked his senior partner Tendulkar, who must have told him to play his game and not bother about individual milestones.
“It looked pretty obvious that they were wanting to finish off the game. Tendulkar was unselfish and didn’t ask Dinesh to give him the strike to complete his century. Many people have often said that Tendulkar plays for records, but this proves that he is totally unselfish and plays for the team,” Baig said.
Former Indian opener Chetan Chauhan also felt that Tendulkar deserved to get his century but was not willing to be harsh on Karthik.
“It would have been better for Dinesh to give the strike to Tendulkar to complete the century. There were lots of overs left in the game but you cannot blame Dinesh or any other player for such situations”, Chauhan said.
“All the players are involved in winning the match and that was their main target. They don’t think of any individual performance much. Dinesh must be focussing on winning the match,” Chauhan said.
Former India stumper Syed Kirmani said it was the duty of the coach to send a message to the batsmen.
“It is mainly the duty of the coach to send in a message to the batsmen at the middle. This is generally done though the batsmen monitor as to what their and the team’s scores are.
“Tendulkar did go over to Dinesh and said something when he was in his 90s. I don’t know what was discussed...There is a possibility that Sachin would have told Karthik that now that Dhoni is not around, and since you have replaced him for two matches, you should remain unbeaten. Both remained unbeaten finally.
“To me, only these two players concerned will know what transpired. Karthik hit a six and at that time Sachin walked up to him and said something. Dinesh nodded his head, from then on, both were not going for big runs but took singles and twos,” Kirmani said.