Last over. Four balls left, 14 runs to win. India were 199/6 in pursuit of 213 set by New Zealand. Dinesh Karthik played Tim Southee’s third ball to long on and, to many people’s surprise, refused to run. At the other end, Krunal Pandya, who was at 25 off 12, appeared bewildered as well.

Karthik, who’d orchestrated a stunning, triumphant climax in the Nidahas Trophy final a year ago, thought he could recreate that magic. He couldn’t, alas!

He could just fetch a single off the next ball. India needed 13 off two and, Pandya, in the next delivery, also could manage only a single. Karthik struck the last ball of the match for a six. But India ended up losing a thrilling final by four runs.

“I think Krunal and I batted really well from that situation (145/6),” Karthik told PTI. “We were able to bring the match down to a place where the bowlers were under pressure. We backed ourselves to do the job. And, at that stage (after refusing the single), I genuinely believed that I could hit a six,”

“As a middle-order batsman, a lot of times you have to trust your ability to play those big shots under pressure. It is also important to trust your partner at that time. I did not come off on that occasion but those things happen in the game of cricket.”

Both Krunal and Karthik shared an unbeaten 63-run stand off 28 balls but it was not enough to save the series. India lost the game by four runs and series 1-2.

“Some days you are able to hit a boundary, some days the bowler does a good job. And there, you have to give credit to Time Southee for the way he executed those yorkers under pressure. One mistake there and I am sure we would have take him down,” said Karthik.

“[The team members] were all aware of the situation and knew we both did the best we could. On that day, we were not good enough. But the support staff, as it has been around for a long time, understood it (our game plan).”

‘It’s been a great couple of years’

Having made his international debut almost 15 years ago, Karthik has managed to play only 26 Tests, 91 ODIs and 30 T20s. But over the last 24 months, his stop-start career seems to have found second wind and he has featured in as many as 20 ODIs and 21 T20Is.

“If you go by the results, definitely yes [his best run in international cricket]. It has been a good couple of years. There is some continuity and that feels good. The team has also done well.”

Karthik will have to continue be on top of his game in the upcoming T20I and ODI series against Australia – India’s last limited-overs series before the World Cup in May-July.

“As an international cricketer, you have to keep reinventing the wheel, being consistent is part of it. There will be questions asked and you have to keep answering them [with your performances).”

“If you read into those things too much, it only pulls you down. It is important that whatever opportunities you get, you do the best you can.”

Place in the batting order

Has the team management told him that number six is the spot for him in the batting order?

“Not really. They are also very flexible in in their approach. I don’t think they have fixed me at number five or six.

“They just believe that whatever opportunity they will give me at any position, they know that I will do the best that I can. They know that I am able to finish games, irrespective of the batting position,” added Karthik.