Cricket

My dream was to play for CSK: Dinesh Karthik

Dinesh Karthik’s father is seated in the second row at a crowded press conference. He’s at the edge of his seat as he watches his son take stage and arrange the barrage of microphones crowding the table. “What questions do you have,” he asks me excitedly, peering over my notepad.

 

It’s a busy time for Karthik’s family. His thrilling last-ball six against Bangladesh a few days ago has done what many hundreds in the local cricketing circuit couldn’t — thrown the spotlight on the 32-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman. MetroPlus catches up with the Chennai lad at the Madras Cricket Club, overlooking Chepauk, a ground that Karthik has fond memories of. Excerpts:

You look refreshed. Have you managed to catch some sleep post the win?

I couldn’t sleep the night we won. We also had an early flight the next day. But after that, yes, I slept and am now feeling refreshed (smiles).

How much have your initial years of training in Chennai helped you tackle pressure on the big stage?

 

A lot of what you learn during the early stages helps, and I’m no different.

You have been in and out of the Indian team many times. Do you look at them as ‘comebacks’, and does that put pressure on you?

 

I have to look at them as comebacks. I was dropped for a certain reason, so I go work on it to give myself an opportunity to do well. And, there’s always pressure. It’s easier to début in a game than make a comeback, because in the latter, people know you and expect something from you. When you’re playing your first match, they’re just excited and don’t know what you’re capable of. They’re two different things.

You can put in a lot of hours honing your cricketing skills, but during a high-pressure situation, it boils down to how tough you are mentally, right?

 

For me, mental toughness is the ability to stay focussed in the present irrespective of what is happening at the match. When you’re ready to face a ball, you need to be able to handle it well. Off the field, you might be asking a lot of questions to yourself but on field, you need to have the ability to clear those and ask yourself the right question. That will happen if you push yourself physically and go out of your comfort zone.

You did exactly that, by working with Mumbai all-rounder Abhishek Nayar, who helped you a lot. Is that a guru-sishya relationship?

 

It is. Having said that, he’s been a dear friend and we chat almost every day. A lot of our relationship is because we’ve been friends but the minute we start talking cricket, it transforms into a guru-sishya relationship. The ideas he gives and the way he puts forward things that I need to do has helped me immensely. He understands me as a person and gives me solutions.

Would you describe yourself as angry and aggressive?

 

I think I’m pretty calm. But I am very restless and fidgety.

Does that help on the field?

He (Abhishek) has never told me to change my personality. The calmness has come over the years because of confidence.

Captaining the Kolkata Knight Riders in this IPL is the latest challenge thrown at you...

 

I’m in a space where I want captaincy. I have done it at various levels but this is my first in the IPL and I’m looking forward to it.

You have played for other franchises, but whenever you speak about the Chennai Super Kings, there’s a fanboy in you...

 

Heart of hearts, I thought I’ll be playing for CSK from the very first year. It’s been 10 years and it has never happened. The dream is getting smaller by the day. I don’t know if I’ll ever play for CSK. I have been born and brought up in the city and would have loved to play for the Chennai team. But today, I have got the opportunity to lead an IPL team which is a big honour and I’d like to do justice to that. I think Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Mumbai have very loyal fans. That’s the beauty of franchise cricket. Chennai has always been an educated cricketing crowd and the way CSK has performed over the years has helped develop this massive fan base.


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Printable version | Jun 11, 2021 6:13:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/my-dream-was-to-play-for-csk-dinesh-karthik/article23311251.ece

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