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Robin Uthappa has certainly hit a purple patch in his purple jersey. He is the leading run-scorer in Pepsi Indian Premiere League 2014 and now he looks to carry this good form as he gets an opportunity to don the India jersey after six years.
On Wednesday evening, when Uthappa was creaming the Kings XI Punjab bowlers at Eden Gardens, news came in that he had made it to the India ODI side. He is now all set to take the flight to Bangladesh where India play three ODIs next month. For Uthappa, it is about his prolific run in the domestic circuit and in the ongoing IPL getting rewarded.
In this exclusive chat with IPLT20.com, Uthappa speaks about the Knight Riders’ dream run and his desire to win matches for India.
Excerpts from his interview:
Eight wins on the trot for KKR; does it seem like a fairytale?
(Smiles) It is a dream run and we have played really well. The initial hiccups were through and we knew every game was important. The most crucial thing was that we were taking it one game at a time, which helped us perform in each game. We gelled very well as a unit.
What has been the highlight of all these wins?
The highlight has to be the fact that everyone contributed and performed well in every aspect of the game. We did well in all the three departments in most games, which has worked for us. Also, if one of those aspects failed, the other two made up for it. Even today, our batting did not come off as well as it should have, but our bowling and fielding made up for it.
How geared up was the team, especially when you knew you were just one step away from the Final?
There was a lot of energy on the field today. We had the winning momentum going our way and we were really happy. We understand that there is still one game to go, which is an important game. We will take the rest that we will get in the next couple of days and prepare ourselves for the Final.
Good to be back in Bengaluru, your home ground, for the final?
Oh, yes! A few of us in this KKR side are from Karnataka and we are looking forward to going back home and playing in front of the home crowd. I think our home crowd will support us. We always ride on the support of the crowd and the atmosphere is going to be amazing.
How satisfied are you with your own form?
I am pretty disappointed with the way I have been getting out. I have been setting myself up for a big score but have not been able to get it. I am a bit upset with that since I am not fulfilling what I am setting out to do for my team. Even today, I should have gone ahead and completed my job, but ended up doing only half of it. I set high standards for myself and I see myself falling short of those standards and that is why I am disappointed. There is still one game to go and I am pretty confident that I will do well if I stick to my game plans.
How does it feel to be back in the ODI side? Do you think your hard work has finally paid off?
I wouldn’t say it has paid off as yet, but it has given me an opportunity to reap benefits. It is not about being a part of the Indian team; it is about winning matches for my country right now. I am grateful that I have got that opportunity and I am looking forward to it. I am happy that my performances have given me a chance to play for my country and I feel proud about that fact. I want to win matches for India and perform my role as an opening batsman to the best of my ability. At this point of time though I am only thinking about the next game in the IPL. I have had a dream of a season, winning almost everything in the domestic circuit, and to top it up with the IPL title would be amazing.
Umesh Yadav delivered the first blow by claiming Virender Sehwag, who was the top-scorer for Kings XI Punjab in both their previous matches against the Kolkata Knight Riders. He then followed up with Glenn Maxwell’s wicket to push the opposition on the back foot. Bowling in tandem with Morne Morkel, he had helped tip the balance in KKR’s favour as the team fought to claim a place in the Final of Pepsi Indian Premier League 2014.
The fast bowler, who had conceded only four runs in his first two overs and claimed two wickets, finished with three for 13 as the Knight Riders triumphed at Eden Gardens. Egged on by the crowd in Kolkata, they put KXIP under pressure and then tightened their stranglehold on the batsmen and eventually sealed the win.
After the victory, Umesh spoke to IPLT20.com about varying his pace and his plans for picking the key wickets.
Excerpts from his interview:
On claiming Sehwag’s wicket up front
We had thought about getting him in the beginning, because whatever pressure will be created, it will be created by Viru paaji. He is an experienced opening batsman and can score briskly. If he plays out the new ball, it becomes easier for the batsmen coming in later. His was a huge wicket for us.
On how he had planned to dismiss Sehwag
As such, I had planned on just concentrating on the basics. I was just focusing on bowling the right line and length. If I swing the ball from the off-stump line, it will be difficult for him to play. I had the chance, so I just worked on bowling my best, and my length was perfect.
On claiming Glenn Maxwell’s wicket
He is a big-hitting batsman and starts to hit from the word go. So, I had I had decided in my mind that I will not bowl in the areas where they can't hit easily. So, I was varying my deliveries. I tried a few things and eventually got his wicket. Facing a few dot-balls and not getting to hit the way he likes frustrated him and that was the reason I got the wicket.
On Gautam Gambhir saying that having a bowler like him with good pace is an asset
He supports me. He tells me that I have the ability to bowl like the best fast bowlers around. One advantage that I have is I have the swing along with pace. The combination of swing along with pace is lethal and it isn’t easy for the batsman to score off you. On tips from Wasim Akram
I have learnt a lot from him. Cricket is also a mind game, and at the same time, it is important to remain calm in order to tackle different situations. Among other things, I have also learnt from him how to remain calm and how to plan for batsmen. He doesn’t get into the technique or try to change your action. He says, ‘If you try to do that, then it will be difficult for you. So it is better to maintain what you already have.’ On bowling the slower ones
The ball was gripping after being pitched. If I would have bowled at express pace, it would have been easy for the batsmen to hit me. So, I kept varying my pace.
On the aggression on the field shown by KKR
Given the way the weather was, we were keen to finish the first five overs as quickly as possible. It could have rained. Then the way Morne Morkel started, it was great; and then, I got a wicket and so did he. After that, we kept getting breakthroughs at regular intervals. After that, we settled, and then, it also looked like it wasn’t going to rain again and we would have a full game. We focused on our plans with our bowling and fielding.
And you do need a bit of aggression on the ground. You have to have a good body language. It helps the team and the credit goes to the whole team. On his view of fast bowlers needing to have aggressive body language
You have to have that. You then look to hit the right line and length. As a fast bowler, you always want the batsman to feel that the bowler is bowling with a lot of pace and aggression.
On whether the weather and the Duckworth/Lewis equation was on the back of their minds
When we came out to bowl, it was drizzling a bit initially, so the first goal was to finish bowling the first five overs. But once the weather started clearing up, we knew there would be a full game. And yes, we had done our calculations and I am sure so had the opposition.
On whether Qualifier 1 saw his best performance of the season
The way I have bowled, is good for me. I am getting back into my rhythm. I am enjoying bowling; I am swinging the ball, getting the line and length right and also I am able to get the variations.
On KKR’s winnings streak
We are happy. We have planned and worked to reach here. And people have played their hearts out.