Watch: Dinesh Karthik starred with the bat for India in the fourth T20I against South Africa, smashing his maiden T20I fifty and helping his side score 73 off the last five overs.
The wicketkeeper, who earned a comeback to the international set-up for the first time since 2019 after a stellar 2022 IPL, where he scored 330 runs at an average of 55 with a strike rate of 183.33, was on fire at Rajkot, helping his side recover from 81-4 in 12.5 overs, allowing them to post 169-6.
The Indian innings failed to garner any momentum in the first ten overs, with just seven fours and one six. The scorecard read 56-3 at the halfway mark, with the top-order unable to break the shackles. Indian skipper Rishabh Pant’s departure for a 23-ball 17 further increased the pressure on the batting order, with Karthik, who walked in at No.6, having the responsibility of ensuring a competitive total along with Hardik Pandya, who was already out in the middle.
Karthik started off cautiously, reaching 15 off the first 12 balls that he faced. He hit two fours off Anrich Nortje in the 16th over, which allowed him to free his arms thereafter. The 37-year-old smashed three fours in the next over bowled by Keshav Maharaj: the first was off a sweep over backward square leg, the second boundary was hit straight down the ground and the third four saw him reverse sweep a flatter delivery over short third man.
The next over, bowled by Dwaine Pretorious, started off with Karthik slog sweeping a fuller delivery over deep square leg. Two more fours followed off the next two balls, as Karthik moved to 41 off 20. The Royal Challengers Bangalore player’s innings contained two more boundaries: a cut behind square off a short ball by Lungi Ngidi, and a six that brought up his maiden T20I fifty, off just 26 balls. He was eventually dismissed as he looked for another big hit, slog sweeping a delivery to deep square leg.
Karthik, who played India’s first-ever T20I match against South Africa in 2006, and is the only active player from that game, departed for a 27-ball 55, with a strike rate of 203.70. The rest of the Indian innings had a combined strike rate of 122.58. Karthik’s knock contained nine fours and two sixes, and he was the only half-centurion from the India team.