Left out of the Indian team after a string of failures, Robin Uthappa is determined to grab his spot when given the opportunity. Recently transferred from the Mumbai team to his hometown Bangalore for this year's Indian Premier League, the 23-year-old is keen to establish himself as a top-order batsman rather than a slogger. Excerpts:
How are you working towards making a comeback to the Indian team?
It is a process and won't happen overnight. When I return to the team, I don't want to be a flash in the pan. I want to stay and consolidate my position. One thing that is happening is that I am understanding my batting better, asking a lot of questions, talking to senior players and clearing doubts on batting.
Where were you going wrong?
Batting at number 7, your success rate is going to be 5 out of 10. You are batting to save your side from trouble or scoring 80 in 35 balls. At 7, you are not known as a batsman but as a slogger. I want to change this..
Were you upset when you were pushed to number 7 after starting as an opener?
It did not create doubts. When I got into the team, we had Sachin (Tendulkar), Sourav (Ganguly), (Virender) Sehwag, Gautam (Gambhir) and Rahul (Dravid) at the top. It said a lot about the confidence the team had in me. I have the ability to be among the top-four batsmen in the country. If there has been a downslide, it has been my shot selection.
What were you going through after being kept out?
Every time you get dropped, there is an opportunity to come back as a better cricketer. You don't look at being dropped as a negative aspect. (M.S.) Dhoni and Gary (Kirsten) have been talking to me. I have been getting into good positions while batting and feel good about it.
How does it feel to be playing for your home city in the IPL and how different was it turning out for Mumbai?
It will be fantastic to play in front of my home crowd. I played here for Mumbai against Bangalore last year and the crowd still encouraged me. Sharing the dressing room with Sanath Jayasuriya, Shaun Pollock and Sachin was excellent. I was the best fielder for Mumbai and the second-best fielder in the IPL.
Coming back home is an advantage. You know the conditions well. It is a big responsibility to ensure that the team does well and I have to contribute. Coach Ray Jennings has gone around conversing with the people of Bangalore, asking whom they wanted in the team. You don't see this often.