Rabin Uthappa is the highest run scorer in Ranji Trophy 2014-15 © IANS
Robin Uthappa was the highest run scorer in Ranji Trophy 2014-15, and had a good outing in IPL 2015 © IANS

Of late, Indian selectors have given chance to many young and upcoming cricketers. Some of them have been able to cement their spot, a few have been in and out following their inconsistent performances, while a lot have perished. However, such has not been the case for Robin Uthappa, the highest run scorer in last Ranji season. Ayush Gupta explains why this Karnataka batsman deserves a longer run in the Indian team.

Born in Coorg, a hill station in Karnataka, Robin Uthappa had a memorable One-Day International (ODI) debut against England, when he smashed an attacking 86 against the like of James Anderson, Liam Plunkett, Sajid Mahmood at Indore. It is still the highest score by an Indian ODI debutante till date. READ: Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav should be picked for the ODIs against Bangladesh

Uthappa was drafted in the Indian squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, where he opened the batting with Virender Sehwag. He was impressive in England in the 2007 tour and later turned out to be one of the impressive  performers for India in the 2007 ICC World T20 in South Africa. However, since 2008, he was sidelined due to a poor form and inconsistent performances. Following the axe, Uthappa went back to domestic cricket. He trained under the former Indian batsman, Pravin Amre. In Indian domestic circuit, Amre has been regarded as ‘Doctor Amre’, for his successful track record of reviving careers. READ: India squad for Bangladesh: Opportunities galore for First-Class, IPL performers

A slight change in technique and bit of maturity have done wonders for Uthappa. In last two domestic seasons, the elegant right-hander has been a consistent performer in the domestic circuit. In the Indian Premier League (IPL) his move from Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) has helped him immensely. With KKR he got the opportunity to open the batting and spend more time at the crease. In this team Utappa got a new avatar — a wicketkeeper-batsman. It has made him a better cricketer altogether. READ: Robin Uthappa: Opening the batting is my bread and butter

Uthappa’s impressive showing in domestic cricket and for KKR in IPL, earned him a recall in the Indian team  during their 2014 tour of Bangladesh for three ODIs. In that rain-affected and low scoring series, he was the highest Indian run-scorer with 69 runs from three games, along with a strike-rate of 85.18 and an average of 23.00, including a half-century. READ: Robin Uthappa: Hoping for an India call-up by performing well in domestic circuit

Despite of his decent showing, Uthappa was in and out from the Indian team. He was dropped from the squad during the home series against West Indies in October, but was selected for the home series against Sri Lanka in November and played a couple of ODIs, scoring just 35 runs. This inconsistent run, didn’t help his confidence and he failed to produce significant performance. Eventually he was dropped.

Again, this Karnataka top-order batsman, went back to domestic cricket to prove his worth. His domestic performances, in the First-Class season of 2014-15, was again very impressive. Apart from being the highest scorer in Ranji Trophy, he was also the second highest run-scorer in all First-Class game after KL Rahul with 1,158 runs, along with a strike-rate of 65.20 and an average of 50.34, including three centuries and six half-centuries, while his highest score was 156. However, his stats in List-A and T20s were not as impressive. His only best performance in the List-A was being the third best wicketkeeper with the most dismissals.

Considering his performance in T20 format during the IPL 2014 Uthappa has been quite consistent. In 2014, he was first picked by KKR. That season, he finished being the highest run scorer, earning the Orange Cap, scoring 660 runs, along with a strike rate of 137.78 and an average of 44.00, including five half-centuries and the highest score of an unbeaten 83. He was also the fourth wicketkeeper with most dismissals of eight victims, as KKR went on to clinch their second IPL title.

Although the 2015 IPL season could not be as impressive as 2014, as KKR crashed out of the first stage, Uthappa made his mark once again as he finished as the highest run scorer for the team with 364 runs from 13 games, along with a strike rate of 131.40 and an average of 30.33, and the highest score of an unbeaten 80. He is also, so far, the third wicketkeeper with most dismissals in the tournament with 12 dismissals. Thus, it was proved again, that he has been a consistent performer if he has been given a long run and a bit of responsibility, like KKR did.

One of the prime reasons for his continued improving cricketing standards is his background work with his coach, Amre, who has turned Uthappa into being a more dependable batsman, rather than a pinch-hitter that he used to be during his early days.

He has been overlooked once again for upcoming ODI series against Bangladesh. Being the second highest First-Class run scorer, one of the prime T20 batsmen in the IPL and having a good record behind the wicket, the question that instantly pops into one’s mind: Doesn’t he deserve a spot in the Indian squad? At least he should be given a long run in the national team like the others got, such as Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli or Suresh Raina.

It is high time for the selectors to trust the abilities of this talent, which has the potential to become successful in the internal arena.

(Ayush Gupta is a reporter at CricketCountry. A passionate supporter of Manchester United, he idolises Roger Federer and is also a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) maniac. He can be followed on Twitter @Ayush24x7)