His team might have a spanking new stadium of their own,but Pune Warriors left-arm spinner still pines for the temporary shelter that Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil stadium provided them in their debut season. When Pune take on Mumbai Indians on Thursday,Kartik would rather bowl to them at DY Patil than at the Subrata Roy Sahara stadium.
“The Pune wicket is really flat,” says Kartik. “I enjoyed bowling at DY Patil,simply because it offered so much bounce. As a spinner,I don’t really need too much turn. All I ask is for my edges to carry and for the ball to keep hitting the splice of the bat. And DY Patil gives spinners that bounce. It is similar to the Wankhede wicket in some ways. Despite the Sahara stadium not offering him as much purchase,Kartik has far better figures this season than last. In 2011,Kartik took just one wicket in six matches,and went for 7.90 runs an over – a far leakier economy rate than the 6.62 he went at in three seasons for Kolkata Knight Riders.
This year,he has been back to his usual best,taking three wickets in six matches – including critical breakthroughs like his dismissal of Virender Sehwag at the Ferozeshah Kotla – and giving away a parsimonious 6.50 runs per over.
Kartik doesn’t read too much into his dip in form last season. “Last year,there were a lot of factors,” he says. “I wasn’t playing too regularly,because we had a lot of spin options. Rahul Sharma was bowling well,and Yuvraj was bowling his left-arm spin too. As a cricketer,especially having played for so many years,you are bound to have these dips here and there. It helped that I went back to Somerset immediately after the IPL for the English T20 championship,and I was back to my normal self.”
Pune’s schedule saw them play Deccan Chargers – the third time this season that they have taken on the same side in consecutive matches,home and away. What are the challenges of such a schedule?
Personally,I’m not a massive fan of it,” says Kartik. “The only reason is because a lot of teams are missing players because of international commitments,and sometimes,when you play a team twice in succession,you miss out on a chance to play against some really big names. For instance,we’ve played Delhi twice already,but I haven’t got a chance to bowl to David Warner,because he is playing the Test series in West Indies.”
Following the trip to Cuttack,Pune face a difficult couple of matches – the ‘derby’ at home to Mumbai Indians,followed by the away tie against Kartik’s former side,Kolkata Knight Riders.
“I’m really looking forward to playing against some of my old mates there,and I have lots of fond memories of playing in Kolkata,not just in IPL but also a lot of international matches,” says Kartik.
One of those matches was an ODI against South Africa in November 2005,when the Eden Gardens crowd cheered for the Proteas because Sourav Ganguly had been left out. Could Pune expect a similar response when Ganguly leads them out in his spiritual home?
“Everyone knows how it is when Sourav plays in Kolkata,” says Kartik. “From my point of view,I hope the crowd factor works in our favour,and they start supporting us. I hope it will be like playing in front of a Pune crowd.”