It's time for some Uthappa fireworks

Focus on Karnataka man as India 'A' face Windies in third one-dayer

It's time for some Uthappa fireworks

Robin Uthappa had frank disbelief on his face while returning to the pavilion after Jonathan Carter’s rather innocuous delivery somehow managed to disturb a single bail during the second one-day match against the West Indies ‘A’ on Tuesday.

It’s no secret that Uthappa has been trying hard to force his way back into the national team after last appearing for India in a T20I against South Africa at Johannesburg on March 30, 2012. Since that date, the Karnataka batsman’s efforts in the previous Ranji Trophy season and in the two editions of the IPL were not sufficient to earn him a recall.

But the beginning of the new season (2013-14) couldn’t have been better as Uthappa, who hired former India batsman Praveen Amre as his personal coach, started with a triple hundred for KSCA XI against Jharkhand in the Safi Darashah tournament. Then came a match-winning hundred for India ‘A’ against their New Zealand counterparts at Visakhapatnam, also earning him further three one-day matches against the West Indies ‘A’ to press his claim ahead of the seven-match one-day series against Australia.

That he would be playing at his home ground -- M Chinnaswamy Stadium -- made the chance all the more attractive from the Kodava man’s point of view. But two matches later, Uthappa, playing in front of national selectors, is still searching for that big score. Uthappa seemed poised for a bigger score in the first match but a moment of petulance ended his stay at 23 -- a pull off Andre Russel finding Miguel Cummins at square leg. Then that seemingly harmless Carter delivery further spoiled Uthappa’s ambitions of impressing the selectors in the next match.

Now, he will have to come good in the third one-day match here on Thursday. It’s not a pleasant situation to be in because there could be a clash between his personal goal and team’s interests. At one side he may be eager to notch up a big score to aid his individual cause  -- not a faulty line of thinking -- as any batsmen trying to make a comeback would want to do.

On the other hand, Uthappa also has to address the immediate goal -- giving India ‘A’ a soild platform that can spur them to win a match and the series win on the morrow. But the danger is that a quick fifty -- beneficial as it might be from a team perspective -- may not help his case.

It’s like walking on thin ice, but Uthappa needs to find a balanced approach that will address both the issues adequately. India ‘A’ coach Lalchand Rajput echoed similar sentiments.

“There will be an opportunity for all players as we are looking at that angle as well. But at the same time, we have to win as well. We have to manage both the things. As far as Uthappa is concerned, he batted very well against New Zealand ‘A’ at Vizag. If he can perform consistently, he will ring a bell with the selectors,” said Rajput.

Uthappa has also been drafted into the India Red squad for the Challenger Trophy to be held from September 26 to 29, and he could still move into the range of selectors’ radar with some fine performances in that tournament. But Uthappa would certainly like to go to Indore with some big runs against his name and confidence in his mind.

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