Hoping to erase a bitter memory

Hoping to erase a bitter memory

 As the number 10 batsman Srinath Arvind offered a return catch to Ajit Agarkar to signal Mumbai’s thrilling six-run triumph in the 2009-10 Ranji Trophy final in Mysore, Robin Uthappa sank in his chair just outside Karnataka’s dressing room.

He appeared to stay seated there for eternity before the then coach K Sanathkumar, himself a distraught man, offered him words of comfort. The outlandish celebrations of Mumbai players didn’t help soothe Karnataka skipper’s wounded feelings. It’s been four years since that defeat but Uthappa still hurts from that heart-breaking loss in what is one of the best Ranji Trophy finals ever. The opener has a chance to redeem himself, albeit just as a player now.

“I was the captain of that team... So that defeat in the final still pinches me,” the right-hander said recalling the match. “We were so close to winning the trophy, we had everything going for us, but unfortunately... I think there was a lot we learnt from that loss. In a way the team got together. The belief that we can actually win became stronger after that. In the last four years, what has happened is we have come to the knockout stages and then one department has failed to fire. Now, what has happened beautifully in this team is that each one of them takes responsibility for his role.

Everyone is willing to contribute so it makes everyone’s job easier,” he offered.
The loss in the final, Uthappa said, was particularly devastating because he had asked and got the captaincy the previous season though Rahul Dravid was at the helm the next season (when they entered the final) before he had to depart for national duty.  “That loss is very close to me because the previous year I had gone and demanded captaincy from (KSCA secretary) Brijesh Patel and said ‘I want to captain this team, because I know this team well’. That season six players debuted, including one in the quarterfinals. The following year we had two more new entrants and we went straight into the final with a relatively new batch. That group has stuck together and that has gone through the Ranji Trophy rigour. When I look back I think it was a beautiful process when everybody went through his ups and downs and it culminated in this way,” he elaborated.

Though his campaign this season was curtailed due to recurring hamstring injuries, Uthappa has bailed out Karnataka in two crucial matches – his first-innings 100 against Uttar Pradesh in Bangalore helped Karnataka assume command while his cautious 46 against Punjab in the semifinal at Mohali with the ball doing all sorts of things negated hosts’ advantage.

“I’m glad I pulled the team out of difficult situations on my return,” he pointed out. “That’s the role I want to play for my team. That’s the confidence I want to give the team, ‘Ok, Robin is here, he’ll take care of the situation.’ I am looking forward to the final and it is going to be exciting. A lot of us believe we are going to win this tournament. It is a huge belief that is going around in the team, that we will win this tournament, simply because we are having so much of fun together. I can’t think of a guy who hasn’t performed when given the opportunity this season. Guys are literally having dreams that we are going to win this tournament. That happens when it’s a happy group and that’s the unit we have today.”

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry