Murali Kartik – A Forgotten Warrior




Murali Kartik

Murali Kartik

India, with its flat and dry surfaces, have been able to produce one great spinner after the other. After the spin quartet of B. Chandrasekhar, Bishen Singh Bedi, Venkatraghavan and Erapalli Prassana, there was Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. With the former’s retirement, Pragyan Ojha, Amit Mishra, Piyush Chawla and now Ashwin have been trying to fill the second spinner’s slot and become a great in due course of time. However the name of Murali Kartik won’t feature in the list. Unfortunate to be playing in the era of Kumble and Harbhajan, Kartik has played only 8 Tests for India picking up 24 wickets at an average of 34.16.

After an impressive 1999-00 season for the Railways, Kartik was selected to play the supporting spinner’s role to Kumble when South Africa toured India in early 2000. He took 6 wickets in the series as the Proteas whitewashed India 2-0. He only managed to pick up 3 wickets in his next two tests against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe as new captain Ganguly failed to show enough confidence in him. He was subsequently dropped for the historical test series against Australia in 2001. Harbhajan picked up 32 wickets in 3 tests and permanently established his place in the side as the spinner alongside Jumbo.

Since then Kartik was kept on the sidelines, playing only when either of Harbhajan or Kumble was injured. Kartik travelled with the team as Kumble opted out of the New Zealand tour in late 2002 but didn’t get to play a game as India went in with a lone spinner on the greenish tracks and he was consequently left out of the 2003 World Cup squad.

With Harbhajan injured, Kartik got a game against Australia in the high scoring Test at Sydney in 2004 but he failed to capitalize on this opportunity. Harbhajan, however fell ill, while Kartik took 5 wickets in the Nagpur Test as Australia won their first ever Test series in India since 1970. Despite Harbhajan returning, he kept his place for the dead rubber in Mumbai. India managed to defend a total of 104 as Kartik got the Man of the Match with 7 wickets in the match. But India couldn’t always afford to play three spinners and Kartik played the last of his 8 Tests against South Africa in Kanpur.

The left arm orthodox spinner has always enjoyed more popularity in England than in his hometown. In 2004 and 2005, he picked up 163 wickets from 39 matches for Ramsbottom in the Lancashire League at an astounding average of less than 10. He signed up for Middlesex in 2007 and immediately became a crowd favourite as he took 51 wickets in 12 matches. He enjoyed cult status as he played a pivotal role in Middlesex’s T20 triumph in 2008, their first trophy in 15 years. He also played 10 matches for KKR in the second IPL conceding less than 6 per over.

Kartik is one of those old warhorses who haven’t got an extended stint in an Indian Jersey. Even after Kumble’s retirement, he was overlooked for selection as the management looked to field young blood. But Kartik, like a wounded warrior still carries on hopeful that he can don the Indian cap one more time.

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Monish Menon

Author:

Hi, I am Monish Menon from Hyderabad and currently working at Franklin Templeton Investments as a Compliance Business Analyst. Sport has always been my passion since I was a kid and I invest all my non-existent free time by watching, playing, writing and analyzing various sporting events across the world. Apart from being a diehard Manchester United fan and a Ferrari supporter, I believe that Roger Federer is still the best tennis player and Sachin Tendulkar is God. I play club cricket and I also am a part of my organization’s cricket and football squad. Being such a sports fanatic, writing about it is something that came naturally to me and I am glad that I got an opportunity through thesportsmirror.com to share my thoughts with the rest of the world. For other articles written by me, you can visit my blog at www.monishmenon.wordpress.com

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