Recall the name of the Indian opener who scored 86 on his 2006 ODI debut game against England? The man brought India back from the dead at Indore to level the series. Then, after scoring 70 off 41 balls against the West Indies in his fourth ODI outing, he exploded into India’s collective senses at The Oval in 2007 with an unbeaten 47 off 33 balls. Sadly, he has since slipped down the favourite charts and hasn’t played an ODI for more than three years now.
That’s Robin Uthappa, who has been recalled for the one-off Twenty20 International against England at Eden Gardens on October 29. Despite his inconsistency, people believe that Uthappa has it in him to knock a few bowling attacks over.
Uthappa’s unwillingness to change his natural game and harness his abilities has been his biggest hurdle in becoming a regular member of Team India. A shocking statistics about him is the fact that after that path breaking-innings at The Oval in 2007, he has crossed 50 just once in 25 ODIs! The first conclusion to be drawn from this damning piece of statistic is Uthappa doesn’t have it in him to stay put at the crease for a long haul.
That India unearthed a player of similar mould in Rohit Sharma, but with greater solidity, did not help Uthappa’s cause. However both these players were consigned to sidelines when Kohli came on the scene. Kohli displayed the nerve by performing time and again in tight chases
Which is why it was refreshing to see Uthappa take on the bowling of India Green in the Challenger Trophy at Nagpur. That innings showed beyond doubt that he has the ability to stay for longer periods and take his team to large totals. The treatment he meted out to Pragyan Ojha and Amit Mishra - India hopefuls both - would stay in the mind for a long time to come
After giving Mishra the stick, he unfolded his entire on Ojha. He attacked him from the word go. He started by lofting him against the turn to long-on and then stayed beside the line as he played a couple of magical inside-out strokes. For greater effect, he swept and reverse-swept powerfully. The joy on reaching his hundred was evident as he raised his arms up in celebration and let out a roar
This is the Uthappa that Indians wants to see - one who takes the attack to the opposition camp and comes out trumps. If he can do that consistently, he could yet be one of the pillars of the Indian batting. He has age and talent on his side. It’s just the consistency that needs to be honed.
(An Australian fan at sports, Venkat Raghav loves cricket and tennis equally. He puts his biased thoughts into writing once in a while at raghavmv.wordpress.com)