By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Dhaka : India could soon take a lead in cricketing innovation by employing two wicket-keepers instead of the traditional one in One-day Internationals, with Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik being part of the move.
Cricket manager Ravi Shastri gave a strong hint here that when the conditions are hot and tough, as they were during Thursday's first One-day International here, India could ask Dhoni and Karthik to share wicket-keeper's duties – a 'first' of its kind.
"We have not thought about it, but if the conditions are like that and if he (Dhoni) is feeling the heat then it's a great bonus to have two wicket-keepers," said Shastri, a former India captain.
"One can keep one for 40 overs, and another for the next overs or someone for 30 overs. It is allowed."
Like Dhoni, Karthik is also a specialist wicket-keeper, but he has been playing as a specialist batsman for the last few matches. Karthik was also picked as a specialist batsman for the World Cup recently.
Dhoni, who battled cramps for a major part of his unbeaten 91 three-hour knock after being promoted to No. 3, and Karthik (58) raised an unbeaten 107 match-winning partnership off 108 balls for the sixth wicket to seal India's five-wicket win over Bangladesh at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium Thursday.
Wicket-keeping has been India's Achilles' heel since Kiran More's exit in 1993. The selectors have tried a host of players – Nayan Mongia, present captain Rahul Dravid, Sameer Dighe, Ajay Ratra, Vijay Dahiya. M.S.K. Prasad and Parthiv Patel among others – but except for Mongia no one was given sufficient time to prove himself.
After Mongia's controversial departure, the churning of stumpers increased and this important fielding position virtually became a game of musical chairs – until the arrival of Dhoni.
And now, we could soon see two wicket-keepers changing pads and gloves during a drink break in ODIs and swapping fielding positions.
It, however, remains to be seen if Dhoni is as good in the outfield as he is behind the wickets. Perhaps, India could try Dhoni elsewhere in the field in the third One-day International in Chittagong if they win the second match here Saturday to wrap up the series 2-0.
On the other hand, Karthik, who is basically a hyper active person, has proved that he can field brilliantly anywhere in the field.
The good thing about Dhoni and Karthik is that they are friends despite being competitors.
"It's a healthy competition (between us)," Dhoni said.
Karthik has also said that he and Dhoni go along extremely well.