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A note to the comeback kid, DK.

by Gaurav Sethi

 It’s not yet halfway through the IPL, but you have gone down on one knee, serenading Indian cricket

Dear DK,

Often when I see you, the lyrics of Peter Gabriel’s Biko are paraphrased to DK – so the chorus, “DK, Oh DK, because DK” rings in my ears. You’d probably get this, you may even have heard this song.

In any case, your cricketing career appears no different from one of those rockers that continue to evolve, reinvent and rediscover themselves.

How long has it been? Pretty long, right? Just checked, you made your India debut in 2004. You last played for the country in 2019. But that hasn’t stopped you from doing your thing, helming KKR, losing the captaincy, not being retained; to almost everyone’s surprise, being picked by RCB. Regrouping at RCB. Rediscovering yourself. Yet again.

You appeared reluctant to speak about your future plans at a post-match. You did mention, there were plans. You spoke of your prep then. You did not take names. Then the match against Delhi Capitals happened. If DK wasn’t already box office, he was now. Everyone wanted a piece of you, as did the IPL, RCB and – Virat Kohli interviewed you.

Now, you are no stranger to interviews. Be it being interviewed or the other way round. You are gracious to a fault. Even during those rough days at KKR. And of course, through golden runs, when everyone delighted in your smile, most notably, Harsha Bhogle.

There always has been that endearing quality to you, as a person. But as a cricketer, it’s been an altogether different story, no? Stats do not tell the DK story, not by a long shot. In no way will they ever do justice to your skill, talent; perhaps as a viewer, your impatience with both was sometimes evident. Dare I compare a younger DK with a younger Rohit Sharma here.

Oh, the reverse sweep. It’s as if being a right-handed bat was your bane. Few batters, would lapse into the reverse so early in their piece. Perhaps you looked solely at scoring opportunities. Perhaps you just wanted to outdo yourself. It was often puzzling.   

Your career overlapped with that of MSD. Talk about being born in the wrong time to Indian cricket. It’s one thing to compete with a cricketer, quite another, to compete with a phenomenon. One whose looming shadow swept and kept every other wicketkeeper in the shade; far, far away from ever shining too bright.

Who knows, your high-risk game, those reverse sweeps, were meant to make that impression – to break away from that shadow. After all, how does one defy that which is written in stone. How does one defy a narrative that India wanted to continue to believe in, no matter what. A narrative that CSK still believes in. That so much of India hold on to, in the belief of cricket immortality.


Perhaps you have made peace with all of that. Your batsmanship certainly seems to suggest so. You have grasped the role of finisher – that it entails one thing above all – to be a finisher, in the truest sense, you are the last man standing. Over the years, that was MS. The cricket world accepted that, and spoke about it incessantly. Even when MS’ finishing powers were on the wane, the broadcasters never lost sight of the great MSD story. That glimmer of hope. That he still can, because he did.

You, however, are doing it. Not as a memory but NOW. You are finishing games. One after the other. Not out after not out. Your batting numbers are bonkers, as a student of the game, one who speaks about it professionally, you know this.

This resurgence of yours is about details. About being in the present with such aplomb that it is not just talk – it is happening. There is an almost Zen-like quality to it all. After the acceptance of your entire career, your cricketing life, you have washed all that regret, those what-ifs. How else does someone transcend to the present so seamlessly? You have shed many a skin to be here. It is a lesson for us all. 

It is a lesson for you. Of accepting what your cricket skill is. As Tendulkar mentioned only the other day, "There are not many right now who are picking up line & length of a bowler so quickly like @DineshKarthik has been doing" Isn’t that what batting is all about – picking up line and length? Transmitting that signal to your cricketing brain and acting upon it?

And how you’ve acted upon those signals, with such clarity. Your all-round angles and hitting zones are at play. You’re sweeping, reverse-sweeping, guiding, gliding, lofting, driving. 

DK, you are down on one knee, serenading Indian cricket again. Oh my, how can we not be taken in. 

You have rekindled a cricket romance that so few knew existed. You have made us look back, and acknowledge, that you were always there. A part of our lives even when you weren’t. If we forgot to take notice, it’s only appropriate that we collectively apologise. 

Sorry, DK. 

You are representative of not just your personal journey but that of so many others that are often forgotten. Some hang in. As you have. Very few make a comeback that is so mind-bending – at a time as this, it’s noteworthy to mention journeymen cricketers such as Robin Uthappa and Umesh Yadav. Who have continued to believe, flattening perceptions. 

In your wonderful cricketing stories, there is a lesson of hope. What we do not see is the effort. You have spoken of the effort repeatedly. When you go all Modesty Blaise, talking about being “Lucky” and “Fortunate” repeatedly, you also speak about your efforts. 

A reminder that at nearly 37, in your 6th IPL franchise, in your 14th IPL season, after lapsing into cricket commentary in England, vowing one and all with your outfits and eloquence, it’s never too late to bounce back. 

Last season, you had 5 not outs from 17 games. This season, you’ve already remained unbeaten 5 times out of 6 games. That manic strike rate of yours, that searing batting average, 197 and 209.57. This is nuts. This is also T20. High-risk. Where even the most earnest efforts and calculations go awry. 

Even the most calculated attacks at the death are high-risk. Especially the sustained ones, such as yours, match after match. You will know only too well, that with these risks often comes the cost of looking foolish, of being dismissed. 

But when a sportsperson surmounts the fear of failure, he probably occupies a zone, that we all simply know as the zone. 

You played for South Zone. Now DK, you play in the zone. If you read this, you will probably chuckle that customary chuckle of yours.

Here’s to the last laugh, DK. May it be yours. 



First published here

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