The acquisition of Robin Uthappa by Chennai Super Kings, which took place outside of the auctions as an exchange from Rajasthan Royals, was a low-key affair, but the three-time IPL champions landed an established batsman in hot shape. With 377 runs at an average of 75.4 and a strike rate of 131.81 in the Vijay Hazare Trophy this season, Uthappa, who now plays for Kerala in domestic cricket, is among the top ten run scorers.
Uthappa’s recent returns have given him renewed confidence as he prepares to play for his sixth IPL franchise. His runs for Kerala came as an opener, and he was also effective in the IPL batting at the top of the order, most notably for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). It clarifies Uthappa’s position: he chooses to open the batting and help CSK win games over batting in the middle order.
“I’d love to be the first player on the field. It’s where I’m always at ease. What I feel most happy doing is getting the team off to a decent start and winning games for the team. People have sought to put me in positions that I am not particularly good at in the last few years. It’s more definitely that the success has slipped. But whenever I’ve opened the batting, I’ve performed admirably “During a chat with TOI on Wednesday, Uthappa revealed.
Uthappa will contend for the starting spot with young Ruturaj Gaikwad, who had a promising season last year, and seasoned Faf du Plessis. With a past dating back to 2004 between Uthappa and MS Dhoni, the latter would know how to get the most out of the 35-year-old.
“Dhoni has made an indelible mark on me. We first met during a Challenger Trophy campaign in 2004 and played an NCA (National Cricket Academy) match together. When we were both playing for India, we were incredibly similar. We’ve been in contact ever since. Our respective families are both very similar. Our partnership has evolved over time. Even our children are now mates “The man from Karnataka reflected.
CSK’s players will have to adjust to the fact that they will not be playing at the spin-friendly MA Chidambaram Stadium as they ramp up their training for the IPL. Last year, it was a cause that affected their chances in the UAE. The latest auction transactions of K Gowtham and Moeen Ali were also made with the conditions in mind, but Uthappa is satisfied that it is at least a fair playing field, with no team benefiting from home conditions.
“Because no side is playing at home, it is certainly a level playing field. Since we’ll be playing in India, spin will still be a factor, especially at the end of the tournament. It’s disappointing that we won’t be playing in front of our home crowd, but home advantage is being taken away from all teams “he said