Coming in at No 7 when India needed 34 off 12 balls to win, wicketkeeper blasts three sixes and two fours to score 29 off just eight balls and do the job
Dinesh Karthik emulates MS Dhoni by propelling India to last-ball win over Bangladesh and win Nidahas Trophy
Dinesh Karthik played the innings of his life when he hit a last-ball six to power India to an unlikely four-wicket victory over Bangladesh in the final of the Nidahas Trophy tri-series Twenty20 tournament at Colombo on Sunday.
Coming in at No 7 when his team needed 34 off 12 balls for a famous win, Karthik blasted three sixes and two fours to score 29 off just eight balls. They proved to be the most crucial – and timely – 29 runs he has scored for India since making his debut in 2004.
What is more, he finally did what MS Dhoni – the man who replaced him as India’s No 1 wicketkeeper 14 years ago – had done on a consistent basis over the years: finish a game.
The 32 year old even alluded to it at the man-of-the-match presentation ceremony when he said: “The Indian team is a tough place to get an opportunity. But once you get it, you have to take it”.
That Karthik was determined to win on Sunday night, after years of living in the shadow of Dhoni – rested for this tournament – was evident when he gave his rationale on Saturday on why it was important to beat Bangladesh.
“When we play Bangladesh, if we win, it’s like ‘OK, you’ve won against Bangladesh’, but if we lose, it’s like: ‘Dude, you’ve lost to Bangladesh. What are you doing?’”
Clearly, he was walking the walk when he strode out to the middle at 133-5.
When both teams look back at the game, they will agree it took one over – the 19th of India’s innings – for Bangladesh to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. That over belonged to Rubel Hossain.
Karthik’s intent showed from the first delivery he faced – which also happened to be Rubel’s first ball of his fourth over – when he set himself up by standing outside his crease, and lifted the ball straight over the fast bowler’s head for six.
The next five balls read: 4, 6, 0, 2, 4. Game on.
The final over, bowled by part-time medium-pacer Soumya Sarkar, was just as dramatic if not as costly for the bowler.
Needing 12 to win off the last over, India lost Vijay Shankar on the penultimate ball but Karthik held his nerve to hit Soumya for six, triggering wild celebrations in the dressing room.
Earlier in the innings, India captain Rohit Sharma gave the team a blazing start in a 42-ball 56, but his wicket gave Bangladesh hope of turning it around. No 5 batsman Manish Pandey also made a crucial 28 but returned to the pavilion.
However, Pandey’s dismissal proved to be a blessing in disguise as the man who replaced him in the middle was Karthik. The happiest man seemed to be Pandey himself.
“Oh my God,” he said. “When I fell, I knew someone had to play a blinder. But we had the belief we could do it and DK has always done it. But oh my God.”
Rohit also paid tribute to Karthik. “I’m very happy to see Dinesh doing what he did,” Rohit said. “He didn’t get much game time until now, but he showed his power.
“We held him back because of his finishing ability and his experience. And it paid off.”
Put into bat, Bangladesh suffered from a lack of partnerships but Sabbir Rahman’s 50-ball 77 gave the team a competitive total at the R Premadasa Stadium, which was packed despite the fact their team did not make the final.
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal claimed three wickets to rattle the Bangladesh batting early including the prized wicket of the in-form Mushfiqur Rahim for nine. He returned figures of 3-18.
Sabbir then went after the Indian pacemen Vijay Shankar and Shardul Thakur, who gave away 93 runs between them.
Left-arm quick Jaydev Unadkat struck late to get two wickets in an over as he finally got Sabbir, who hit seven fours and four sixes, bowled on a slower delivery.
Before Sunday night, Bangladesh had never won against India in their seven T20 meetings. They missed a golden opportunity to end that wait.