Kolkata Knight Riders' Robin Uthappa plays a shot during their IPL match against Rajasthan Royals Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad. (PTI Photo)
It might be coincidental that Robin Uthappa’s last India appearance came as an opener with Gautam Gambhir, against South Africa in a rain-affected T20 in March 2012. Set a target of 82 in 7.5 overs, the duo fell short by 12 runs.
More than two years later, it looks as if that partnership has been reignited. For a change, Uthappa is not letting go of any opportunity to make his case heard. He feels the dream run is a result of his improving wicket-keeping skills that in turn have bettered his hand-eye coordination.
“I have been focusing on holding good shapes, especially in the first six overs because the ball does a bit. If I hold good shape and get behind the line of the ball, I look to put it into the gaps,” said Uthappa.
It has, besides keeping Uthappa in good touch, lent solidity to KKR’s opening forays. With Gambhir too finding form after a nightmarish start, KKR look a much more potent team while chasing. “I think as opening batsmen we know it’s important to get the team off to a good start. It’s good to have momentum going our way. Gautam and I play to a plan, complement each other, run really well between wickets, talk to each other. We don’t think about the pressure. We just think about going out there and doing our job. I think that’s the most important thing,” said Uthappa.
Uthappa also elaborated on the measures he has taken to adapt to T20 cricket. “As an opening batsman, sometimes because you want to hit the ball very hard, you tend to grab the right hand a bit. As a result, you tend to square up a bit. I try to make sure I stay side on as much as possible and try to hit the ball a little late.
That’s the intent,” said Uthappa, who has scores of 47, 65, 47, 46, 80, 40 and 67 in seven successive matches. Apart from guiding KKR to five successive wins, this amazing streak of scores has also pitchforked Uthappa to the second place on the top-scorers’ list.