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Robin Uthappa has defied the law of averages. In a format that is more fickle than English weather, he strung 10 scores of 40-plus on the bounce, in Pepsi IPL 2014. The Kolkata Knight Riders opener was the single most important reason behind the team’s unbelievable jump from the near bottom of the table in the first phase of the tournament to them surging to the IPL crown.
With his 660 runs in the tournament at an average of 44 and a strike-rate of 137.78, Uthappa overtook the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Dwayne Smith to go home with the Orange Cap. After KKR’s thrilling three-wicket win in the final against KXIP, an elated and excited Uthappa narrated his joy in an interview with IPLT20.com.
Here are excerpts from his interview:
A perfect end to the fairytale?
Oh, absolutely! This is absolutely stunning! The whole feeling is just so surreal. For me, personally, this is the fourth cup in a year and so, wow! It doesn’t get better than this, does it? This has been such an amazing ride. We didn’t start off well, but there was always the belief that we can get our campaign back on track if we just take it one game at a time, and that is exactly what we did. Even today, we knew that on this ground we can chase down any score. We only had to keep up with the run-rate and keep ourselves in the game. Literally, everybody chipped in.
Where would you rate this in your career achievements?
I have set some goals for myself – a to-do list. But this year has been something else. The Ranji Trophy, the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the Irani Trophy and now the IPL, all in one year! I never thought I’ll be able to do that. It’s amazing. This is a tick in another box.
10 consecutive 40-plus scores in the T20 format – it’s unreal!
I was very keen on making a meaningful contribution to the team’s cause and I am really happy to be able to do that, and many times, also carrying the team through from difficult situations. To keep pulling off the scores after the sixth or seventh one there was a bit of pressure. I kept reminding myself to forget about the past scores, just stay in the present, and play the ball on its merit. It all fell into place, and here we are! Going back at the top of the order must have felt like homecoming.
Well, opening the batting is my bread and butter; that’s what I do for a living. It was great that the management showed faith in me and I am glad I lived up to their expectations. I am glad I lived up to my own expectations.
Good to have some runs from the captain as well and batting with him?
Absolutely! Gauti and I have always batted well opening the batting together. We’ve done that for India and have also played a lot of domestic cricket together, for India A. The understanding and the camaraderie between us is really good. We really egg each other on while batting, which is the most important thing when two batsmen are setting up a foundation for the team. Also, it’s very good to bat with a left-hander as that combination will always make things difficult for the opposition.
He bowled a beauty to bowl Dwayne Smith out in his very first over of the IPL. Pat Cummins had kick started his IPL career in grand fashion, and though he did not get any other chance in the games to follow, it is a wonderful IPL memory that the Australian pacer takes back home. On Sunday night, he cheered for every run his side scored in a dramatic run-chase. And by the end of it, he laid his hands on the coveted IPL trophy. Though he may have just one game under his belt, there is a lot that Cummins takes back from his first IPL experience.
Excerpts from his interview:
Your first IPL season and you are a part of a champion side!
(Smiles) This is an unreal moment for me and it feels special to be crowned champions in my very first year with KKR. The team has been in unbelievable form throughout the tournament. The bowlers have been outstanding and the batsmen have been phenomenal. It has been a great journey for me to be a part of the team, and I take away a lot from it.
What do you take back from this IPL experience?
Being my first IPL experience, I wasn’t really quite sure what to expect from the tournament. For me, KKR is a big family and that is what I take back home. Everyone in the team was there together from day-one, which prevailed right till the end of the tournament. Everyone enjoyed each others’ success and everyone chipped in when they had to.
How nervous were you when the team required 15 off the last two overs?
I was really nervous when the game got that close; I was biting my nails and I can assure you I have none left on my fingers now (laughs). We knew in the dugout that we needed one big shot, and Piyush Chawla pulled that out of nowhere. It was an unbelievable moment, and as soon as the shot went for a six, there was a sigh of relief.
What has been the highlight for you this season?
There are quite a lot, but I would rate this run-chase right at the top. To chase 200 in the final has to top it off. Also, to win nine in a row is special; you cannot top that with anything else.