Kallis is currently working with Karthik at the 2019 Indian Premier League, where he serves as head coach of Kolkata Knight Riders, of which Karthik is captain.
Kallis felt Karthik would fit in well as India’s No.4. The position has been highly contentious in the build-up to the tournament, with India still looking for answers. Karthik, however, hasn’t been in the discussion.
DK is one of the best finishers I have ever seen. He has been unbelievable for KKR.
He last played ODI cricket during India’s tour of New Zealand, and while he has been solid in the chances given to him, the performances haven’t been enough to make him stand out in a competitive pool, comprising KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu and Rishabh Pant, among potentially several others.
Kallis, however, felt Karthik would be critical to India’s chances at the marquee event. "India will be silly not to pick Dinesh Kartik in the World Cup team,” he told India Today. “He has the experience and the temperament, and will be critical to India's chances. He should be looked at as the No.4 option.
"2019 will be the most open World Cup of all, and India certainly has the team to win it and are the favourites going into the tournament. DK is one of the best finishers I have ever seen. He has been unbelievable for KKR. To have a guy there who is going to be calm under pressure... and he is great to have in your dressing room as well.”
Echoing Kallis’ views was Kolkata team mentor Abhishek Nayar, who has had a direct influence on the wicket-keeper’s late career resurgence. Nayar put Karthik through a rigorous training programme that included a complete mental reset. It led to Karthik coming back with renewed purpose and slamming that stunning eight-ball 29* in the Nidahas Trophy final of 2018.
"I think in the past two years, he has shown us how versatile he is. He is not only a finisher but even batting up the order… I think he gives you that versatility also, being a wicket-keeper and a very good fielder," Nayar said.
Nayar went on to say that Karthik didn’t necessarily have to be a back-up wicket-keeper and that he was good enough to make the team on his batting and fielding skills alone. "He is not only a keeper back-up, but also a batsman back-up, who can come and field,” he said.
“We've seen how well he fields and the kind of catches he has taken. He is also ideal to bat at No.4. Because of the kind batsman he is, you can use him anywhere in the batting order. So, for me, he is someone I feel should be definitely in that World Cup squad."