Published on May 6th, 2017 | by Suraj Choudhari0
Can Robin Uthappa’s rich form earn him a ICC Champions Trophy ticket?
Representing a national side is every cricketer’s dream, and to make a comeback into the national side is every cricketer’s desire. Kolkata Knight Riders’ top-order batsman, Robin Uthappa, has been in a sublime form this season and scored runs at a brisk pace in the tournament so far. Cricket has often witnessed players getting recognition and often making comebacks into their respective national sides on the basis of a fruitful run in the IPL. Could this be a turning point in Robin Uthappa’s cricketing chronicle?
Watching Uthappa bat is mesmerising, he is a stroke-maker, hits the cricket ball hard and often times it to perfection. A valiant batsman at the batting crease, Uthappa’s amazing hand-eye coordination and knack of watching the ball till the very last moment makes him special. He can just guide a fast bowler through the slip cordon at the very last moment and squeeze a boundary by beating the fielder at third man with his guile.
The ongoing season has witnessed some breath-takin performances by the heavily built right-hander, which makes his presence unavoidable for the national selectors. With ICC Champion Trophy being around the corner and India missing out on KL Rahul due to a mistimed shoulder injury, the openers spot is open to be grabbed. Uthappa has scored 384 runs in nine innings at a staggering average of 42.66 with the help of five half-centuries. He is already fourth on the list of highest run-scorers in the IPL and has done commendably well with his willow. What makes his run special is the fact that he boasts of the best strike-rate in the last of top 10 run getters. in fact, he has highest strike-rate for anyone, who has scored 152 runs and above in the tournament so far. Such impeccable consistency at such a blistering strike-rate is noteworthy and deserves attention.
Uthappa has some fascinating knocks under his belt this season. His 47-ball 87 against Rising Pune Supergiant and a match-winning partnership was a treat for the KKR fans. On the other hand, his 33-ball 59 and 53 off 28 deliveries against the strong bowling attacks of Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad speaks about his ability to score against quality bowling attacks.
One of the highlights of Uthappa’s batting has been his ability to hit the ball in the V (straighter part of the ground). Playing straight reduces the risk of getting out massively and yields fruitful results – a quality which Uthappa has mastered. He looks technically solid and well equipped to confront spin and pace on any wicket riding in the wide arena of strokes he has in his artillery. Uthappa is a versatile batsman, can anchor an innings as well as accelerate when required. Having a player like him is always an asset for any side. One the years, his batting has only evolved for the good and has inspired confidence the moment he took guard.
Kolkata Knight Riders’ skipper Gautam Gambhir spoke in the favour of Uthappa and was quoted in his team’s official website – kkr.in saying, “Uthappa was too brilliant behind and in front of the stumps. Three stumping and one of them being a game-changer really helped us. And while batting he displayed beautiful hitting technique. What stood for me was his ability to hit the ball straight. I hope selectors are watching.“
Uthappa has done a praiseworthy job as an opener for KKR. Along with Gautam Gambhir, the duo formed one of the most impactful and attacking opening pairs in the tournament. And, at the moment he is shoulder the number 3 responsibility for his side. Looking at the kind of form he has been in, India will only benefit by Uthappa’s inclusion in the ICC Champions Trophy in England. He can provide a solid back-up if not preferred as a first-choice opener. Alongside Rohit Sharma, Uthappa can form an assailing opening pair and can get the team off to a flying start. Apart from his exploits with the bat, Uthappa is also brilliant when it comes to wicket-keeping.
Going by the numbers, Uthappa has just played a couple of One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in England till date, in which he averages 69 at an impressive strike-rate of 109.52. With his game on a rise, one can only expect him to do better in the testing English conditions. After making his international debut back in 2006, Uthappa fought his way back into the national side on a couple of occasions in 2014 and 2015. Can he replicate it once again? Can his rich IPL form earn him a national call? Well, if he continues his pristine form in the remainder of the games for KKR, then there is possibly no reason why he should be overlooked?
Not just limited-overs cricket, Uthappa can be lethal in the Indian Test side as well. His attacking style of play can garner some priceless runs at six (preferably) or seven in the Test line-up and inflict immense damage on the opposition. Adam Gilchrist did it for years, and Uthappa is capable of doing so as well. Though his wicket-keeping skills in Test format can be a matter of concern, but his batting single-handedly deserves a Test spot.
KKR are sitting right at the second position in the points table and in all likelihood will make it to the playoffs. For Uthappa, he is certainly under the scanner now and a good run will most probably fulfill his desire of making a national comeback. KKR will want him to absorb the pressure and deliver in the business end of the tournament.