The curious case of Robin Uthappa

Robin Uthappa can don the finisher's role in Team India and relieve MS Dhoni of some burden.

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The Karnataka-lad has shown remarkable improvement in his game since the last few years and may make a comeback into the national team soon ©AFP
The Karnataka-lad has shown remarkable improvement in his game since the last few years and may make a comeback into the national team soon ©AFP

Referred as ‘The Walking Assassin”, Karnataka lad, Robin Uthappa, a senior player for his state as well as current IPL franchise, still hasn’t been able to cement his place in the national side. Debuting for the Indian team in 2005 when England toured India, he made a promising start scoring a well compiled 86 on debut. With Indian team scheduled to host important series this year, he would be eyeing the flight to Zimbabwe as a dress-rehearsal to make it into the team with solid performances. READ:Robin Uthappa deserves a longer run in Indian team

It is not a known fact that the Indian cricket team is sure to go through some big changes with the MS Dhoni-era in its fag end. The test side has started its march forward without MS Dhoni since 2014. On the other hand, the ODI team has a few slots for grabs. The opening pair of Rohit Sharma-Shikhar Dhawan have played few memorable innings but if the individual performances are to be taken into account, Dhawan can be ousted owing to his lackluster form. If Uthappa makes a comeback to the team, he may not get the opening position but may fit in the middle or lower middle-order. In India’s last ODI series Down Under, the team found an able batsman at No. 4 position with Manish Pandey scoring a ton in the final ODI. Though he came in for Ajinkya Rahane, who is a proven match-winner, Pandey has not done much in this year’s IPL so far. If Rahane replaces Dhawan at the top, the No. 4 position will be up for grabs and should likely go to Manish Pandey in order to encourage him after his excellent showing in Australia. This leaves Robin Uthappa with the No. 5/No. 6 spot.

With Dhoni approaching the twilight of his career, he has shown his willingness to bat up the order. So, Uthappa can take up the finishing job from the limited-overs skipper, bating at No.6. He has the ability to rotate the strike and is a busy player since his early days. He is an aggressive cricketer and hits the ball hard. With a strike-rate of 135.28 in IPL 2016, Uthappa has done no harm to his reputation and can don the finisher’s role for the team’s sake and reduce some burden from Dhoni.

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) struggled to get a move on in the first three editions of the IPL but things changed completely after they appointed Gautam Gambhir as their captain. The team has a lot of players, who are capable of winning matches single-handedly but without doubt, Robin Uthappa has stood for the team in all situations. Opening and taking the full-time job of wicket-keeping, he provides a much-needed balance to the side. While in the Indian team, he used to throw his wicket after settling in but has rectified this mistake in the previous editions while playing for KKR. He has played proper cricketing shots at the beginning of an innings and rotates the strike with ease in the middle-overs with a few calculated lofty blows.

If he remains till the end, he does take the team to a good score. In the 2014-15 Ranji Trophy, Karnataka won the title largely because of his dominating bating where he compiled 912 runs in 19 matches at an average of 50.66. With 10 consecutive innings of 40-plus scores in IPL 2014, he has been chipping in with valuable contributions ever since and shows that he still has it in him to make it to the national team. His performance in the inaugural edition of the ICC World T20 was noteworthy as he got runs in almost all important matches and could have played a similar role in the last edition of the World T20, hosted by India.

All is still not lost for the dashing right-hander and he may feature into the playing XI for Team India. He has to take one series at a time. He may bring down some burden from Dhoni’s shoulders, which may allow him to play more for the country. The only way he can storm into the team is by remaining consistent, which he has been able to do and provide some impetus on his career as well.

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry.com who is completely into sports and loves writing about cricket in general. He can be followed on Twitter at adisahay7)



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