Dinesh Karthik is an Indian wicketkeeper-batsman who made his international debut at an early age after rising through the ranks of U-19 cricket team. While he has remained a regular member of the Indian team for varying periods of time throughout the last decade, he failed to cement his place in the team due to inconsistent performance in domestic and international cricket. Originally a batsman, he was able to increase his opportunities by honing his wicket-keeping skills, but was reduced to reserve option after the arrival of M.S. Dhoni. He has had a better T20 career, being purchased by Delhi Daredevils at a whooping Rs.12.5 crore in the seventh season of IPL. While he failed to justify his price tag that season, he has showed good performance in T20 over the years, playing for teams like Kings XI Punjab, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Gujarat Lions. For the upcoming edition of the IPL, he has been named the captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders team.
Childhood & Early Life
Dinesh Karthik was born on June 1, 1985 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu to Krishna Kumar, a first-division cricketer from Chennai, and his wife Padma. He has a younger brother named Vinesh.
He spent a couple years of his childhood in Kuwait where his father worked and attended Fahaheel Al-Watanieh Indian Private School, under Delhi Public School. At the age of ten, he got his first cricket lessons from his father, who had to leave cricket for a stable job and did not want his son to suffer the same fate.
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Dinesh Karthik trained with his father since a very early age. He steered through the youth ranks very quickly, and debuted for Tamil Nadu Under-14s in early 1999 and was promoted to the Under-16 team in November that year.
He was selected for the Under-19 team at the age of 15 years and 3 months, but later lost the position due to poor performance. He regained his place in the U-19 team the following season and was subsequently promoted to the Under-22 team, making a strong case for his selection to the senior team in the 2002–03 season.
He debuted at first-class level as wicket-keeping batsman for Tamil Nadu in late-2002 against Baroda and in the whole season, he scored 179 runs in five matches, including an undefeated 88 to help the team avoid certain loss. While he was overlooked for Duleep Trophy due to dip in form, he bagged a spot in the national Under-19 team with three fifties in his second zonal season.
He improved his wicket-keeping skills by training under Kiran More, former national wicket-keeper batsman and chairman of the selection committee. During the 2003–04 Ranji season, he scored 438 runs with two centuries and 20 catches.
He secured a berth in Indian team for the 2004 U-19 World Cup, which was held in Bangladesh. The Indian U-19 team reached the semifinals of the tournament.
Dinesh Karthik made his ODI debut in the NatWest series against England on September 5, 2004, and went on to play in one match against Kenya in the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy. He subsequently made his Test debut in the 4th Test against Australia on November 3, 2004, replacing out-of-form Parthiv Patel.
He next played in the two-match home series against South Africa, also in November 2004, but had only one decent 46-run innings in the second Test. The next month, he accompanied the Test team to Bangladesh for a two match series, but failed to contribute to India’s massive 500-plus scores in both matches.
The selection of M.S. Dhoni as a wicket-keeper batsman in the ODI team limited Karthik’s opportunities till April 2006, but he was retained for the home Test series against Pakistan in March 2005. He again failed to perform with the bat in high-scoring matches, except for 93 runs in the second innings of the second Test to put up a 166-run partnership with Rahul Dravid.
After scoring just one run in each match against Zimbabwe in September 2005, he was replaced by Dhoni who had a prolific career sofar. After Dhoni suffered a finger injury, he was called back for the Third Test against South Africa in January 2007 and made a hundred-run opening partnership with Wasim Jaffer, contributing 63 runs.
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Prior to the Test series, he failed to perform in the ODIs, but made an unbeaten 31 in the T20 to steer India to victory against South Africa.
In the following four-match ODI series against West Indies, he took a struggling Indian team to a decent score with his 63 runs on a slow wicket in the match at Cuttack, and was instrumental in India’s victory in that match.
He was selected for the series against Sri Lanka and the 2007 Cricket World Cup, but failed to contribute with the bat. While he was retained for the inaugural 2007 ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa, he was later dropped due to poor performance.
He toured Bangladesh as a specialist opening batsman after a number of batsmen were dropped following India’s flop show at the World Cup 2007, and scored his maiden century in the second Test in Dhaka. With regular 50-plus scores, he became the top scorer for India in Tests during their England tour in mid-2007, but failed utilize his opportunity in the ODIs.
Despite average performance against Pakistan in late 2007, he was retained as an opener for the Australia series, but only played in one practice match and a T20. Replacing Dhoni, who had taken rest, he again showed poor form against Sri Lanka in July 2008 and was dropped from the team.
In the following years, he played as a replacement for Dhoni against teams like New Zealand and Bangladesh, but was later displaced by Wriddhiman Saha during the South Africa series in 2010. Riding on his good form in domestic cricket and IPL, he made a comeback to the ODI team during the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy.
Dinesh Karthik played for Delhi Daredevils in the first three installments of IPL, showcasing consistent performance, and was bought by Kings XI Punjab in 2011. He joined Mumbai Indians in the following season and helped the team to its first ever title win in 2013 by scoring 510 in the whole tournament.
For the 2018 edition of IPL, he has been appointed captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders
Personal Life & Legacy
Dinesh Karthik married his childhood friend Nikita Vanjara on May 02, 2007 in a low-key private ceremony in Mumbai. The marriage broke apart in 2012 allegedly because of Nikita's affair with Indian cricketer Murali Vijay.
His second marriage to Indian squash player Dipika Pallikal was on August 18, 2015 in Chennai. The two first met back in 2008 at the Chennai marathon, but became romantically involved after they met again in 2013 at Mr. Shankar Basu’s Maverick gym.
In 2008, Dinesh Karthik participated in the dance reality show 'Ek Khiladi Ek Hasina' partnering with Nigaar Khan. Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen and former Pakistani cricketer Wasim Akram were among the judges on the show.