Cricket-India return on mind, Karthik continues to sizzle for Bangalore

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MUMBAI (Reuters) - Dinesh Karthik will turn 37 in June but he still harbours hopes of fulfilling his "bigger goal" of playing for India again, the wicketkeeper said after setting up an Indian Premier League win for the Royal Challengers Bangalore with a blistering knock.

Karthik paced his innings expertly after walking in to bat with Bangalore tottering at 92-5 against the Delhi Capitals on Saturday and guided his side to a total of 189-5 with an unbeaten 66 off 34 balls.

The total was enough to hand Bangalore a 16-run victory and power them into the top four in the league table.

"I must admit I have a bigger goal," Karthik said after collecting his second player-of-the-match award in this season's Twenty20 tournament.

"I have been working really, really hard. Sometimes people don't believe it. But my aim is to do something special for the country. This is part of the journey. I have been doing everything I can to be part of that Indian team.

"This is one step in that direction."

Since making his India debut in 2004, the Chennai-born Karthik has played 26 tests, 94 one-dayers and 32 T20 internationals and last turned out for the national side in the 50-over World Cup in 2019 in England.

After six matches in this year's IPL, Karthik has an average of 197 at a strike rate of 210, and would hope to carry on his run-scoring spree to be in contention for the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia later this year.

"The way DK is playing at the moment, I sound like a broken record but he is in the form of his life," former South Africa and current Bangalore captain Faf du Plessis said.

"What makes him even more (special) is he is so clear in his game plans. He is so calm and composed right through. Obviously very lucky to have him in our team at the moment."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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