India skipper Rohit Sharma on Sunday lauded Dinesh Karthik’s ability to handle pressure after the wicketkeeper-batsman hit a last-ball six to help his side clinch the tri-series Twenty20 final against Bangladesh in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Karthik showcased nerves of steel during his eight-ball 29 to help India pull off a tense 167-run chase and win by four wickets at the R. Premadasa Stadium.
India were pushed to the brink, needing 34 off the final 12 balls, but Karthik’s whirlwind knock ensured that they stayed unbeaten against Bangladesh in eight Twenty20 meetings between the two sides.
Sharma, who set the chase with his 42-ball 56, said that dropping Karthik down to No. 7 was part of a plan that came off well.
“He has batted in that position in a list of games for his state teams. Even when he was playing for Mumbai Indians [in the Indian Premier League] with me, I knew his ability with the bat,” Sharma told reporters. “He’s got some different types of skill shots that would probably be required at that point at the death overs. That was the only reason we held him back. I can proudly say it paid off.”
Needing 12 to win off the final over, India lost Vijay Shankar on the penultimate ball, but Karthik held his nerve to hit Soumya Sarkar for six, triggering wild celebrations in the dressing room.
Fast bowler Mustafizur Rahman gave away just one run in the 18th over and took the crucial wicket of Manish Pandey, who made 28, to give Bangladesh the edge.
Karthik, who was named man of the match, then stepped up to clobber paceman Rubel Hossain for two sixes and two fours as India took 22 runs in the 19th over to make the equation easy.
“Dinesh and Manish and Vijay [Shankar] knew that the pressure is on them, so one mistake here and there, and pressure does play a big part. That’s exactly what happened,” Sharma said. “We knew he [Karthik] could finish off the game for us.”
Earlier, after being put into bat, Bangladesh rode on Sabbir Rahman’s 50-ball 77 to post 166-8 against a disciplined bowling.
“Anybody could’ve won the game, but credit to India, they held their nerves, especially Dinesh Karthik for the way he played,” Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan said.
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