Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar thinks 32-year-old Dinesh Karthik has only himself to blame in not being able to establish himself as a regular in the national team.
Karthik, who made his ODI and Test debuts way back in 2004, recently found himself in the spotlight after smashing an 8-ball 29*, including a six off the last ball with the team needing five to win, that spared India's blushes against Bangladesh in the Nidahas T20 tri-series final in Sri Lanka earlier this month.
"...Suddenly there are a lot of sympathisers for him, talking of how Indian cricket has given him a raw deal. The second point of view is that he should be moved up the order. I don't buy into either," Manjrekar writes in his column for espncricinfo.com.
He continues: "Yes, he may not have had a settled place in the Indian teams, but the person mainly responsible for this is the player himself. I don't think anyone in this game sits down with a long-term commitment to try and stunt a career or plot someone's downfall. At best, they look for excuses to pick or drop players, and even there, it's performance that's used."
52-year-old Manjrekar also explains what makes the selectors back a player like Rohit Sharma but not Karthik. "Why didn't Karthik get the long rope that Rohit tends to get, some might ask. Well, it's because of what Rohit does when he succeeds. He has three double-hundreds in ODIs! It's hard to drop such a player after a few failures. In Tests, of course, he is far more vulnerable to being dropped, but there too, let's not forget, he started with two hundreds in his first two Tests. This is what good players do: they play innings of the kind that leave selectors and team managements with no choice but to play them."
Looking ahead, Manjrekar, who is now a well-known commentator, offers advice as to how India can utilise Karthik's batting talent to the hilt. "If Karthik continues to bat down the order he will find himself in such situations more often. 'See ball, hit ball' situations. And that's how I think Indian cricket can extract the best value out of him and enable him to keep his current star status as batsman. It would also be a nice story in the sport, to see a graph that shows a peak at a time when you generally see a career-ending dip."