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Murali Kartik: Brings raw passion to his art

Murali Kartik's stunning bowling in the Irani Trophy in October signals a second coming for the immensely gifted left arm spinner. For the last couple of years or more, Kartik has been marked out by observers as an outstanding Test prospect. He broke into first class cricket with a flourish, taking ten wickets, including a hat-trick, in his debut season for Railways against Vidarbha in 1996-97. Ever since, this protege of Bishen Bedi has been hovering on the fringes like a vulture homing in for the big prize.

In November 1999, Kartik was chosen to the India A squad that toured the Caribbean in November. Fourteen wickets in two 'Tests' were testimony to the difficulties he posed and a Test cap seemed just around the corner. When the call came against South Africa in February, Kartik was steady rather than spectacular but there were clear indications he was going to be a long-term player in the team's calculations.

Kartik went into the Irani Trophy in October with a lot at stake. After being named in the first batch of trainees to the National Cricket Academy in May, he was unfortunately forced out due to a wrist injury which he says was not diagnosed correctly. The media went to town, associating him with a few other youngsters who were given the marching orders on grounds of indiscipline.

The Irani Trophy was an opportune moment for Kartik to quash the doubts over his fitness and make it clear that his confidence remained unaffected by the episode. This he did in quite astonishing fashion. Of his magic with the ball, of course, there was plenty in evidence. At a loss to read him in the air and off the pitch, the hopeful attempts of Mumbai's batsmen to smother the spin and keep the ball out of harm's reach were quite simply ineffectual.

More than the number of wickets he scalped though, it was the brazenly combative attitude he exuded that was far more conspicuous. His trademark trot down the wicket to lock eyeballs with the batsman in a withering glare was in full view and exemplified the passion which he brought to his work. Selection to the Indian Test side for the one-off Test against Bangladesh was but foregone after the Irani Trophy and in the absence of Anil Kumble, much of the burden will fall on the wiry Kartik's shoulders. A role he would welcome with undisguised zeal.

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Murali Kartik

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