Dinesh Karthik guides Team India to emphatic victory; India level series 2-2
“The evening of comebacks”. If there was one phrase to define the 4th T20I be it the game itself for India after a dismal beginning after being put in to bat first, Dinesh Karthik’s first T20I 50 that was 16 years in the making, or the result of the game in the context of the series.
At 81/4 after being put in to bat, India’s hopes in the game and the series appeared to be fading away quickly. In Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya, they found two batters who would not just steady the ship, but counterpunch with equal measures of caution and precision to take India to a total of 169 on a Rajkot track that was playing plenty of tricks. Comeback number 1.
Did we mention that Dinesh Karthik scored 55 off just 27? It was the year 2006 - India’s first-ever T20I when a 21-year-old Tamil Nadu youngster took Team India home in a run-chase. Cut to 2022, after several spells on and off with the team, the youngster who is now a senior pro seems to have found his calling - the finisher. The kind of knock we have become all too accustomed to since the beginning of IPL 2022 - picking up length so easily, having access to multiple parts of the ground with such control - it would not be an overstatement to say DK was instrumental in India putting up a defendable score.
169 was far more than what one might’ve imagined when the Protean bowlers looked well on top at the halfway point of the Indian innings, but 170 is by no means beyond the visitors’ reach. The first few innings where the snakes in the pitch reared up to produce a body blow - a seemingly innocuous delivery on good length by Bhuvneshwar Kumar that took out the South African captain Temba Bavuma retired hurt was in retrospect the sign of things to come. The Proteas never looked settled. Indian bowlers dominated the middle overs. Yuzvendra Chahal got the better of his nemesis, Heinrich Klaasen, for the second time in as many games, Harshal Patel uprooted the dangerous David Miller, and Avesh Khan cleaned up the rest of the Protean bowling lineup to complete the third comeback of the night - Team India rising back from the dead to level the series 2-2.
Come Sunday, a packed Chinnaswamy stadium in Namma Bengaluru will witness the series-decider, something that looked unlikely after the first two games.