The second half of India's preparation for the 2022 T20 World Cup began with a five-match home series against South Africa. While India head coach Rahul Dravid avoided commenting on a player's chances for the big tournament in Australia later this year, he lavished praise on an India star, saying that "he is knocking very hard" for a spot in the T20 World Cup.
Dravid praised Dinesh Karthik, whose outstanding batting in the T20I series against South Africa caused most veterans and experts to reconsider their World Cup starting XI or squad. Karthik smashed 92 runs at a strike rate of 158.6 in four innings in the series.
Karthik was chosen for a "very specific role," according to Dravid, and the veteran batter combined well with Hardik Pandya in the Rajkot tie last Friday to help India level the series. Karthik has a match-winning 55 off 27 balls, while Hardik has a match-winning 46 off 31 balls to help India add 73 runs in the last five overs and reach a match-winning total of 169.
"He was picked for a very specific skill," Dravid said of Karthik in the post-match conference on Sunday in Bengaluru. "And it's nice when that's kind of indicated in a sense that it came together brilliantly for us in the Rajkot game, where we needed that big performance in the last five overs to be able to make a par score. He and Hardik [Pandya] batted beautifully for us; both of them are our enforcers at the end, guys who can capitalize on those last five-six overs.
"They are probably two of the best in the world in those last five-six overs. So, yeah, it was really nice to see Karthik come off and do what he has been picked to do. It certainly opens up a lot more options for us going forward. Innings like that certainly make you start. Like I was telling the guys it's not about knocking the door - you have to start banging the door down, and an innings like that certainly means he is knocking very hard."
India has 10 more T20I games in hand to play across three series before the World Cup and Karthik has been taken for the impending two-match contest against Ireland which will be played later this month