Dinesh Karthik was back in India’s ODI colours for the first time since December last year with the Tamil Nadu man chosen in the playing XI for the decider of the three-match series against England at Headingley.
Replacing KL Rahul in the line-up, the pressure was on Karthik to deliver the goods as he looked to stake a more permanent claim in India’s limited-overs setup.
In the end, the right-hander’s comeback innings for India was cut short at 22 as the visitors struggled to post 256-8 in their 50 overs after being put into bat first by England skipper Eoin Morgan.
Here, we take a closer look at how Karthik fared at Headingley.
RUNS SCORED: 21
BALLS FACED: 22
Karthik arrived at the crease in the 18th over of the innings after Shikhar Dhawan was run-out and looked to be in supreme touch from the very get go.
He was comfortable against both spinners and pacer alike and found boundaries at will with some classic strokes. The 33-year-old was beginning to form a threatening partnership with skipper Virat Kohli before he was undone by Adil Rashid.
There was hardly anything to fault Karthik for on Tuesday with the batsman giving India exactly what they would have wanted from their number four. He took no time in settling himself at the crease as he crashed a boundary in his very second delivery with a deft late-cut.
Some more fluent strokes followed as Karthik did not all the bowlers to get on top of him and kept the scoring-rate ticking along nicely.
Such was the nature of Karthik’s innings at Headingley that his dismissal looked very much against the run of play. He was looking well set for a big score as he raced away to a run-a-ball 21 before he dragged a Rashid delivery on to his stumps while attempting to drive the England spinner through the off-side.
The dismissal was frustrating in the sense for Karthik due to the fact that he had attempted a similar stroke against Rashid at the start of his innings but the inside-edge rolled on to his pads and not the stumps. He failed to pay heed to that threat and there was no luck for him the second time he attempted the same stroke.
VERDICT – 6/10
With India’s middle-order conundrum still showing no signs of any resolution, Tuesday’s knock was going to be crucial for Karthik’s chances of staking his claim for a berth in the squad for the World Cup in a year’s time. With the in-form KL Rahul being dropped to make way for him, Karthik absolutely needed to nail his innings and to be fair to him, he did look completely unflustered before his dismissal.
However, chances have been few and far in between for the Kolkata Knight Riders skipper and his failure to score big in the decider could set him back further in the pecking order. A missed opportunity for Karthik at Headingley unfortunately.
However, that celebration came back to bite the pacer during the second ODI between Zimbabwe and Pakistan at Bulawyo on Monday.
The Pakistan pacer picked up three wickets as the hosts were bowled out for 194 runs. Having dismissed Zimbabwe batsman Ryan Murray by uprooting his stumps, Hasan Ali bent down to bring out his trademark celebration but then had to stop mid-way after experiencing a muscle-pull in his neck.
Although unfortunate for the bowler, the hilarious incident even brought out chuckles from skipper Sarfraz Ahmed. Hasan Ali did go on to complete the over and returned to bowl further despite his visible pain.
On social media, fans were even less forgiving with the Pakistan man being trolled for injuring himself in the process.
Crocked neck/shoulder but celebration to banti hai 😏 don't need more injuries Hassan Ali #ZimvPak— Farrukh Aziz (@iamfarrukh) July 16, 2018
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) later clarified that the pacer’s injury is not too serious and that he will be available to play the third ODI which takes place on Wednesday at the Queen’s Sports Club.
Pakistan currently lead the five-match series by 2-0 after two thumping wins so far over the hosts. They won the first ODI by a whopping margin of 201 runs before completing a comprehensive nine-wicket win in the second match on Monday.
England opener Jason Roy may miss a one-day international series decider against India that Mark Wood views as perfect preparation for next summer’s World Cup.
Roy, England’s second-highest run scorer in the series, sustained a deep cut to the little finger on his right hand when fielding at Lord’s on Saturday and will undergo a late fitness test ahead of the third and final match at Headingley.
Kent’s Sam Billings has been called up as cover but it is Hampshire’s James Vince, whose last 50-over appearance for his country came in October 2016, who is expected to feature should Roy miss out.
Vince, dropped from the Test team at the start of the summer, scored over 500 runs in Hampshire’s victorious Royal London One Day Cup campaign this summer and may have the chance to add to his previous four ODI innings due to Alex Hales’ injury and Dawid Malan’s involvement with England Lions.
India are seeking their 10th consecutive bilateral ODI series success but Wood knows a victory in Leeds for England would stand them in good stead for next summer’s World Cup on home soil.
“I think this has an impact for the World Cup,” Wood said. “We can use it as a game where it might be (like) a semi-final or a knock-out game. It’s a series decider here, which will be like a World Cup match – it’s a must-win.
“Luckily, over the past year we’ve managed these situations really well. Hopefully we can carry on that trend.”
The teams first and second in the ICC ODI rankings have each suffered a crushing defeat so far in this series – with England bouncing back at Lord’s after an eight-wicket loss at Trent Bridge – and Wood attributes that to the respective nations’ killer instinct.
“It’s two very good sides – when they’re on top, they really are on top, you keep your foot on the throat and don’t let opposition up,” he added.
India could be boosted by the return of bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The 28-year-old practised in the nets on Monday and, like Roy, is due to undergo a late fitness test.