New Delhi: Dinesh Karthik's current form makes him a hot buy at the IPL auction on Monday and the revitalised wicket-keeper batsman says he would prefer to be part of a winning team rather than being paid the big bucks in an unsuccessful campaign like the one he endured last season.
Having gone through highs and lows of the last two editions, Karthik goes into auction at the back of a solid Ranji Trophy season, promising more for the quarterfinals beginning Tuesday.
Used to being in and out of the Indian team, the Tamil Nadu player knows the importance of runs in the ongoing domestic season and the upcoming IPL with MS Dhoni's sudden retirement from Test throwing him back into the national reckoning.
"IPL is still sometime away but I hope to be part of a successful team, something I missed badly last season despite having such a talented squad at the Delhi Daredevils. It was really disappointing. For now, the focus is on helping Tamil Nadu win Ranji Trophy and if I keep performing the way I am right now, I know a national recall is not far away," Karthik told PTI today.
With no wicket-keeper able to establish himself in the Indian Test side, does he fancy his chances after Dhoni's departure?
"It (playing for India again) is something I am really looking forward to. As a player it (Dhoni's retirement) is great opening for me. If I have a good IPL, combined with my showing in Ranji Trophy, there is no reason why I can't make a comeback again," said the Chennai-based cricketer.
Karthik, bought for an unexpected Rs. 12.5 crore, was one of the 13 players released by Daredevils, who finished last in IPL-7. A season before, he was part of title-winning Mumbai Indians squad.
The 2014 auction high was soon followed by a low when the 29-year-old was dropped from the Indian team after a forgettable showing at the Asia Cup in March. He tried many things to turn the tide including a stint with batting coach Pravin Amre and that eventually paid off.
"It was a tough phase," he recalled. "I tried changing my grip and ended up injuring my wrist. Change is tough for any cricketer, especially if you used to playing in a certain way, it becomes second nature to you. So I went to back my old grip and now I feel good about my batting again. A lot of credit goes to Amre sir. He really helped me get out of that challenging phase."
He says paying equal attention to batting and wicket-keeping in the off-season has started to reap benefits.
"Wicket-keeping was an area I needed to work hard on and I have been doing that. Lot of work went into my batting as well. I can see the improvement. The key to batting is grip and downswing and I had to put that extra effort to get these aspects right," said Karthik, who has hit two hundreds this Ranji season including a match-saving 92 and unbeaten 103 against Bengal at Eden Gardens.
Karthik, alongside Yuvraj Singh, Kevin Pietersen and Hashim Amla, has attracted the highest-base price of Rs 2 crore. Is he expecting good deal again?
"I must confess one thing. Even though I was one of the best paid last year but it was not as satisfying as the time when I was at Mumbai Indians and we won. Money is important but it is not the route to happiness. Route to happiness is that you are part of a winning team and I missed it last year," he said.
No conversation could be complete in the current scenario without a mention of World Cup.
"I will be watching India versus Pakistan from ball one.
It is that sort of a match you can't miss. Overall, I am sure India will make at least the semifinals. I know we have not done well of late but I see the team making the last four and from there anything can happen. When it comes to pressure, India have always done well in ICC events, whether it was the 2013 Champions trophy or the World Cup at home four years ago," said Karthik.