My role is to absorb pressure and help team win : Dinesh Karthik

Kolkata: Wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik said that his role in the team is to absorb pressure and help the team win, which he exactly did against West Indies in the first T20 international at Kolkata on Sunday.

Chasing 110, India were struggling at 45 for four in the eighth over when Dinesh Karthik took control of the proceedings at the Eden Gardens. First in the company of Manish Pandey and then debutant Krunal Pandya (21 of 9 balls), Karthik scored an unbeaten 31 off 34 balls with three fours and one six to help the hosts reach the target with 13 balls to spare. India prevailed over the visitors by five wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

“The wicket was good to bat on and has got something for the bowlers as well. It’s got a lot of bounce and seam movement. They bowled some good balls upfront – the balls they bowled to Shikhar and Rohit were special. When someone’s bowling above 140, getting the ball to seam and bounce – it’s hard. They were two good wickets,” said Dinesh Karthik.

About his role, he added, “When there’s pressure, absorb the pressure, try and help the team win. As a senior player, that’s my role in the team. At the same time, play confident cricket. It was important that the good bowlers were seen through,” he added.

Skipper Rohit Sharma hoped they will learn from the mistakes which put India in a spot of the bother before crossing the line. “(We) knew the chase wasn’t going to be easy. Hopefully, we can learn from these mistakes,” Sharma said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

“Exceptional performance with the ball. There was a lot on offer for the seamers. Even with spinners, it wasn’t easy. Overall there was little bit for every department. To start with, we bowled well – good areas. Used the conditions perfectly,” Sharma said.

Wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav (3/13) led the Indian bowlers’ fine show to restrict West Indies to 109 for eight after the stand-in skipper opted to to field. For the Windies, skipper Carlos Brathwaite and Oshane Thomas picked up two wickets apiece in impressive spells.

“Oshane Thomas is a really exciting talent. If he bowls in good areas, it’s not going to be easy for batsmen to counter it. The advantage of height gives him that extra edge. Wish him the best in the future but not against us,” the Indian skipper said of the West Indian pacer.

Sharma also lavished praise on debutants Krunal and Khaleel Ahmed. “Very exciting talents again – Krunal and Khaleel. Krunal – I’ve seen him closely in last two-three years for Mumbai Indians. When he came into bowl, (Kieron) Pollard was batting. He was the one who wanted to bowl against him. These guys are ready to take those challenges. Exciting for the captain when you see that. If they continue to work on their skills, India’s going to benefit for sure.”

Brathwaite said they didn’t apply themselves. “We never got into second or third gear… were either too defensive or too attacking. Can see the way Keemo (Paul) and (Fabian) Allen finished, if we had wickets in hand we would’ve got 130-140 which would’ve probably been a winning score.”

It was at this ground that Brathwaite hit four sixes in an over to help WI win the World T20 two years ago. On the promising Oshane Thomas, the captain said, “Don’t know what the long-term plans will be from the selection panel. He’s at the best place he could be. Hope he gets fitter, gets stronger. Continues to bowl rapidly. For him, the world is at his feet. We will try to guide him as well as we can. Ultimately it’s up to us, the Windies cricket system, to pull him along and create what would be another Joel Garner or Michael Holding.”

Man of the Match Kuldeep said, “Sometimes wicket happens, sometimes it doesn’t. But that’s my aim. The first wicket (of Darren Bravo) was the one I cherished. It’s the ball I’m working on (faster one). Just bowl it to contain runs as well.”

NT Bureau