India head coach Rahul Dravid said the side will wait to see how veteran wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik will be fitness-wise on the morning of their crucial Super 12 match against Bangladesh in the T20 World Cup at Adelaide before making a final decision on him being in the playing eleven.
In India's five-wicket loss to South Africa at Perth on Sunday, Karthik had to walk off the field during South Africa's run-chase of 134 due to a lower back injury. In his absence, Rishabh Pant took up keeping duties for the rest of the match, causing a doubt on Karthik's availability for Wednesday's match against Bangladesh at Adelaide Oval.
"He's pulled up pretty well today. Unfortunately, he had that spasm when he jumped to collect a bouncer and then he landed badly, in a way that he did his back in a little bit. But with treatment and some days, he's pulled up pretty well this morning. He's come to training and so, we will be assessing it.
"We will see how it goes and how he pulls up tomorrow morning after a good practice session today. We will put him through his paces and ensure that we have given him a good workout and then see how he pulls up tomorrow morning before making a final decision," said Dravid in the pre-match press conference.
Karthik made the cut for the T20 World Cup squad after producing some brilliant performances as a specialist finisher for Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2022. He then made a comeback into the India T20I squad as a designated finisher, where he did put in some sparkling performances in the chances he got.
Lack of game time
With the Indian team management choosing to invest in his finishing skills in the shortest format of the game, Karthik hasn't got enough time in the tournament to apply finishing touches to India's innings.
He has batted only twice in the tournament, facing two balls against Pakistan, especially while facing spin bowling, which isn't his forte. Against South Africa, Karthik arrived at the crease before the 10th over and though he shared a 52-run stand with a belligerent Suryakumar Yadav for the sixth wicket, he failed to fire, which was the case with almost all Indian batters.
"Again, tough for someone like DK, to assess how he's gone. You don't get to play too many games; he got one ball against Pakistan at the back end and didn't bat against Netherlands. I thought he was building a pretty good partnership with Surya. At that stage, we needed a really good partnership just to stabilise us.
"It was set up for him, but again that's the nature of this game. You play that high-risk shot and you can get out on that shot, which is why people need to be supported and backed as much as possibly can in these formats because people, especially in positions like DK batting at five and six, you don't get enough balls (to play)," stated Dravid.
Though Karthik hasn't been named in the squad for the three T20Is against New Zealand scheduled immediately after the T20 World Cup ends in Australia, Dravid signed off by saying the current think-tank will continue to back Karthik in coming good as a specialist finisher in the ongoing tournament.
"When you have to go (out) and deliver very high-risk shots without having much time to settle in, our belief has always been to back and support players in those positions. Come the critical time, hopefully he will be in the right frame of mind to play those crunch shots for us."