Robin Uthappa's selling price at the player auction ahead of the Indian Premier League (IPL) created a stir. After all, the Karnataka power-hitter had been bought by newbies Pune Warriors India for $2.1 million per season.
While justifying Uthappa's worth, Sushanto, son of Sahara's honcho Subrata Roy, had said it was because of his impact and his ability to keep wicket.
Uthappa couldn't have asked for a better opportunity to justify the tag of an impact player than on Wednesday. With the Warriors chasing Kochi Tuskers Kerala's 148 for eight, Uthappa walked in to bat with the team reeling at 61 for three in the 10th over. Nine balls later, he lost skipper Yuvraj Singh, who edged Brad Hodge's part-time off-spin to glovesman Parthiv Patel.
The match that should have been won was drifting away from the Warriors. But the 13 balls Uthappa faced made the difference. Besides his three spanking boundaries, he first hit RP Singh over the sightscreen and then tonked Muttiah Muralitharan into the second tier of the club house.
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Then came a moment of arrogance as Uthappa tried to reverse sweep Murali and saw the ball crashing into the stumps. The game had indeed turned on its head again. Uthappa had emerged as the game-changer in the opposition's favour.
Had it not been for a few lusty blows by Mohnish Mishra and Rahul Sharma, who batted with a runner after colliding in the field with Graeme Smith, who also opened the batting with a runner, Warriors wouldn't have crossed the line with seven balls to spare. Had the Tuskers come out on top, as much as they would have thanked the Jadejas, they would have thanked Uthappa for his rush of blood.