Dinesh Karthik had been unhappy he was not batting higher in the order. Right through the tournament, he had come in no lower than No. 6. In the most recent match, against Bangladesh, he had actually batted at No. 4.
But there was a plan, said captain Rohit Sharma, even if Karthik seems not to have been completely briefed on it at the time. Karthik has experience. Karthik has shots around the ground. Thus, he was the perfect candidate to provide the innings with its final flourish.
“When I got out, I went and sat in the dugout and Dinesh was quite upset that he didn’t bat at No. 6,” Rohit said. “But I told him: ‘I want you to bat and finish off the game for us, because whatever skill you have, it will be required in the last three or four overs’. That is the only reason he was not batting at No. 6 in the 13th over when I got out. He was upset with that, but he’ll be quite happy now how he finished off the game.
“I have to go back to the kinds of shots that he has in his books – it suits him to finish off games at the death where you have to use that one fielder that is inside the circle – either fine leg, or mid-off or short third man. He can always play those ramp shots which he played in the end to Rubel Hossain. He knows that. I thought Mustafizur [Rahman] would bowl probably the 18th and the 20th overs, and we wanted an experienced guy to handle him. We knew he would come out with his offcutters and Dinesh probably would have been a better choice at that point.”
That Karthik produced an innings of such quality and poise will perhaps put pressure on India’s selectors to make him a more permanent member of the side. At present, the place of wicketkeeper-batsman is occupied by MS Dhoni who, at 36, is still producing good finishes in limited-overs innings, though not quite with the frequency of his heyday. Before this final, Karthik had spoken of how tough competition in the India side was at present: on how even one poor series or tournament could see him leapfrogged by the next contender. For now, his place in the second string at least, is secure following this 29 off eight balls.
“He was with us on the previous tour in South Africa and didn’t get much game time,” Rohit said of Karthik. “To do what he did today will give him a lot of confidence going forward. Most important thing he has is belief in himself. Whatever situation comes, he’s ready – whether he bats up the order or down the order. That’s the kind of guy we need in our team.”
Rohit was also full of praise for Washington Sundar, whose economy rate finished at a staggering 5.7 for the tournament. Of the 20 overs he bowled in Sri Lanka, 13 were delivered in the Powerplay. Having taken 1 for 20 in the final, he and Yuzvendra Chahal – who took 3 for 18 – finished as the tournament’s highest wicket-takers, with eight dismissals apiece.
“I think throughout the series Sundar’s bowling has been magical for us. What he has done with the new ball is quite incredible, I would say. Not anyone can just take the pressure of bowling within the Powerplay. Not to forget he also got wickets at the same time. He didn’t allow any of the opposition to score runs really in the Powerplay.
“The skillset that he has – he’s quite courageous to do what he wants to do in the middle. It’s not just one or two games. He consistently bowled in the Powerplay, and always kept us in the games. We identified him as one of the promising talents who can play for the national team for many years. This tournament will give him a lot of confidence.”