Team India star batsman Shikhar Dhawan heaped praise on Dinesh Karthik, saying the Tamil Nadu veteran is "one of the best middle-order players" in the team. The opening batsman also lauded the way the 32-year-old went about his match-winning knock during the second ODI of the ongoing three-match series against New Zealand in Pune on Wednesday, October 25.
Karthik has been ticking all the boxes ever since he made yet another comeback into the Indian side in the first ODI on Sunday, October 22. The right-hander got a start in Mumbai, but failed to convert it into a big one as he was dismissed for 37.
However, Karthik made sure he stayed till the end on Wednesday when India was chasing a 231-run target in a must-win situation on a slow surface at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium. He hit an unbeaten 64 off 92 balls, while stitching crucial partnerships with Dhawan, Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni.
Karthik took his time and backed himself to get the job done without taking risks through the innings. He hit just four boundaries, but made sure he kept the scoreboard ticking with ones and twos.
'Dinesh is good at...'
"Karthik has worked hard, he has made a lot of runs at the domestic level. He has been rewarded with a return to the side. He is one of the best middle-order players. He has got the skills, the shots and he is proving himself," Dhawan, who hit 68 on Wednesday, said.
He added: "He played a good knock today. Even in the first game, when the team was in trouble he contributed with 30-40  runs.
"Dinesh is good at rotating the strike, he relieves the pressure of his partners. I didn't not rotate the strike today [Wednesday]. Usually I do, but Dinesh did it and it helped me."
Karthik credits Kohli, Shastri
India have tried quite a few players at the number four slot in the recent past, but none, including the likes of KL Rahul and Manish Pandey, were able to grab their opportunities. However, if early signs are anything go to by, Karthik is likely to cement his place and provide relief to the team management, who are looking for a settled line-up in the lead-up to 2019 ICC World Cup.
Karthik himself has been in and out of the team throughout his 75-match ODI career. Despite making loads of runs at the domestic level, the wicketkeeper-batsman was never able to become a permanent member of the Indian side.
However, after having made yet another comeback, a solid one this time, Karthik revealed he is in a better space of mind and credited captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri for giving him the opportunity.
"I have had a lot of demons to fight and these things happen inside you. In the end lot of credit to Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli. I am not able to put it exactly to what I am feeling. I have got a good score and need to take confidence from this match to win more matches," Karthik said on Wednesday.
He added: "It is important to spend as much time in the middle. It was even more important for me to be there when we won the match and I am happy that I was able to do that."