It has been an unforgettable season for veteran wicketkeeper batter Dinesh Karthik. The 37-year-old donned the India jersey for the first time in three years after the national selectors recalled him on the back of a sensational Indian Premier League (IPL), which saw him scoring 330 runs in 16 games for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). But what impressed the fans and former cricketers the most was the destructive nature of his knocks during the cash-rich league as Dinesh Karthik's runs came at a strike rate of 183.33. The Tamil Nadu batter followed his IPL heroics with an equally impressive showing in the home T20I series against South Africa, including a stunning innings of 55 off 27 balls in the fourth match in Rajkot. With Dinesh Karthik continuing with his rich vein of form against the Proteas, many cricket pundits have now labelled him the X-factor in India's yet-to-be-announced T20 World Cup squad. The remarkable turnaround made by Dinesh Karthik though wasn't achieved in a single day and the legendary Sunil Gavaskar has now revealed how the seasoned campaigner made it all possible.

“When we (him and Dinesh Karthik) went for the World Test Championship we were pretty much having lunch, breakfast, dinner together. And over there he was telling me about his ambition to come back in the India team for the T20 World Cup,” Sunil Gavaskar said during a debate on Star Sports.

“He wasn't in line for the one in UAE but this time around he looks very well to be part of the flight that takes to Melbourne,” he added.

“He was telling me, how he was creating situation in his mind and practicing according to them. So it was not just mindless practice, it was thoughtful practice. It was practice according to what the situation might be when he's out there,” the former India captain continued.

“Because if you're batting at 6 and 7, you're not going to get 20 overs, not 18 overs. You're gonna get 5-6, maybe if the wickets fall nine overs to bat but in those nine, how to go about it is what he was practicing,” Sunil Gavaskar elaborated.

The cricketer-turned-commentator also disclosed that Dinesh Karthik was desperate to get back into the Indian cricket team and hence decided to train as hard as he could.

Sunil Gavaskar mentioned that when Dinesh Karthik felt like he couldn't continue his “special training” in the hotel gym, he got himself enrolled at a club where the facilities were far better.

“He was also training so he got out from the hotel gym because it wasn't good enough. He wanted to do some special training. He went and got himself enrolled in a club,” Sunil Gavaskar stated.

“That tells you about the dedication and keenness to comeback into the Indian team. And the way he's playing now that'll only make you admire. You've put in the hard yards and it's the reward,” said the batting legend,” he concluded.

Sanjay Bangar who was RCB’s head coach in the 15th edition of the IPL too had shared identical stories about Dinesh Karthik.

Bangar said that Dinesh Karthik played domestic cricket, often local T20 events to improve his game when he was not getting opportunities to represent India at the international level.

“He has the hunger. When he wasn’t playing in the IPL, he played a lot in domestic T20 cricket. When even those matches were over, he went to Madurai and many other places to play local cricket. He wanted to practice in open wickets, as much as he could. And he is now reaping the rewards of his hard work. He has set a standard by showing such grit, determination and brilliance to make a return to the Indian team,” Bangar told Star Sports.

“Many a time, statistics can be misleading. I remember the game against RR where Ashwin and Chahal were bowling; the stats showed that Karthik wasn’t strong against spin, but he proved it wrong. The main difference between the previous season and this one was that he came with a positive approach. He wanted to take on the spinners. You would’ve noticed, he attempted shots like sweep, reverse-sweep, slog-sweep to perfection against spin bowlers,” Sanjay Bangar, who was the batting coach of the Indian cricket team from 2014 to 2019 added.

Meanwhile, Dinesh Karthik was extremely happy to return to the national team.

“I am very happy, very proud. It’s an incredible atmosphere and team to be part of,” he said in a video posted on BCCI’s Twitter handle. “For about three years, I’ve been looking from outside. I’ve been looking at how special feeling it must be to be a part of this team. I am enjoying and very grateful for every second I am here.”

“I think, I’ve been dropped so many times and I always wanted to make a comeback into the Indian team,” he explained. “I think that has been my biggest drive, whenever, whether I’ve played domestic, whether I’ve played IPL.”

“The urge, the fire in the belly in terms of wanting to come back here, wear the national colours and represent the India team is something that I dream of everyday, and that is what has kept me going consistently in the last decade or so,” Dinesh Karthik summed up.