India batsman Robin Uthappa has announced that he is determined to regain his spot in the national team since he believes he “can set up games and win games for my country”.
Uthappa also noted that he has an “extremely good chance” of being included in India’s World Cup squad.
“When I did get an opportunity on a normal one-day wicket, I did get a few runs,” he said. “So I am hoping that a few more good performances can give me back that spot to prove my ability at the top of the order. I do believe I can lay the foundation and can set up games and win games for my country.”
Uthappa was called up to India’s ODI squad for the first time in nearly six years when they toured Bangladesh in June. During that series, he was mediocre at best as he accumulated scores of 50, 14 and 5.
However, Uthappa’s form has taken a turn for the worse as he scored 134 runs in seven one-day innings and 48 runs in three unofficial Test innings during India A’s recent tour of Australia. As a result of his poor form with the bat, Uthappa was snubbed for the national team’s ongoing ODI series against England.
Despite admitting that he disappointed about being overlooked for the ODI series in England, Uthappa is confident that he will be called up once again in the near future.
“I can sense and feel that I am in and around the fringe again and I just need to top up with my performances,” he said. “I just need to keep going out there and doing well and if I can do that I know it [a call-up] is not far off, it’s just a matter of time.”
After he was kept out of the Indian side for such a lengthy period of time, Uthappa conceded that he began to doubt himself as a cricketer.
However, Uthappa said it was a “wonderful journey” when he started to revamp his batting technique nearly three years ago.
“As a batsman, I feel like I am in a fantastic space,” he said. “The mindset has changed, the approach has changed.
“I am not satisfied with my performances in the sense that I want to improve. There is a massive hunger that has grown because of all the work I have put in and everything I have experienced in the last few years of deconstructing the game and again reconstructing it.”
After fixing his batting technique, Uthappa started to dominate as he scored 820 runs, which included four centuries, in 17 List A matches at an average of 51.25 in last year’s domestic season. He followed that up with 374 runs, which included one century, at an average of 41.55 in six Ranji Trophy matches. Uthappa’s red-hot form continued into the Indian Premier League (IPL), where he finished as the tournament’s top run-scorer with 660 runs at an average of 44.
“I just knew that if I can top up those [domestic] performances by doing well in the IPL and contributing to my team, then it would have a massively good impact on my cricket,” he said. “Fortunately my game had fallen into place by then, I was very confident of what I was going to be doing, how I was going to approach things at the top of the order. All of that I had sorted. I went into that tournament with a lot of confidence and my goals in place and I was happy to be achieving all of them.”
Uthappa is now looking to capture the national selectors’ attention during the upcoming Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20), in which he will be representing the Kolkata Knight Riders.
“Growth has become a huge part of my life, I want to be growing and improving as far as my skills are concerned,” he said. “If you don’t improve, you tend to stagnate and I don’t want to be putting myself in that kind of situation anymore.”
The 28-year-old is also confident that the Knight Riders can win the CLT20, especially after they won this year’s IPL.
“We are a wonderful unit, an extremely happy unit that cares for each other’s performances,” he said. “There’s a lot of emotion that runs around the team, which is great. I think winning the IPL has brought us closer.”
Uthappa is also determined to help Karnataka have another perfect season this year after they won the Ranji Trophy, Irani Cup and Vijay Hazare Trophy last year.
“It’s a huge expectation to live up to again, but it’s a good expectation to live up to as well,” he said. “It’s a good standard to set for ourselves. We took it one game at a time last year and if we can repeat that, very consciously, I think we will be able to repeat those performances.”
While Uthappa is eager to be included in India’s World Cup squad, he revealed that his “ultimate goal” is to play Test cricket.
“Even when I started reconstructing my game, that was the goal, to be able to perform at the highest level, and that is the highest level,” he said. “It was a little unfortunate to miss out last season on six [first-class] games – that would have played a huge part in claiming my [Test] spot as well because there is a dearth of an opening batsman there. I believe this season is an opportunity on many fronts for me, and I am looking forward to maximising it.”