Uthappa mulls return

Uthappa mulls return

Seasoned batsman Robin Uthappa has confessed that he missed playing for Karnataka. DH Photo/Satish Badiger

It was perhaps Robin Uthappa’s biggest career decision to end a 15-year association with Karnataka last year. However, after an underwhelming season with his new team Saurashtra, the right-hander is now mulling to return to Karnataka, a team ‘close to his heart.’

Uthappa’s interest to participate in the Karnataka Premier League came as a surprise to many. With a little over two weeks to go for the tournament, Uthappa hinted that playing in KPL could be the first step towards getting back to his home side for the domestic season. “Well let’s see what happens. I am here and this (KPL) is kind of a start. So let’s see where it goes from here,” he said here at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Sunday. 

The classy batsman, who will turn out for the Kalyani Bengaluru Blasters, confessed that he longed to play for the State again. “How can I not play here? It’s our tournament, it’s our KPL. I missed playing in front of the people of Karnataka. It’s an opportunity to connect with them and get their love. So I am excited,” he said. 

His shift in allegiance occurred following an uneasy equation with his home association. The 2016-17 season was the start of his problems with Karnataka. Apart from his inconsistency, the selectors’ decision to ignore him for the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal tie against Tamil Nadu citing disciplinary reasons didn’t seem to go down well with the 32-year-old.

The KSCA authorities had said that several attempts to convince him to not to move were futile. Uthappa admitted that his fallout with the administrators could have been avoided.

“There were a few things to mend with the KSCA,” he began. “Whatever effort was required from my end I have done that now and I am happy I did that. I never had any difficulty with the players. In fact during the Vijay Hazare Trophy final, I couldn’t play the match for Saurashtra. I was actually in the Karnataka dressing room for a while and spoke to all the players.

“So I have always got along with my team-mates. It (issues) was mostly with the administrators. I think there are certain areas where I overstepped. I had to own up to it and apologise, take responsibility for it. And I did that,” he disclosed. 

By his standards, his show in all formats for Saurashtra was average. While he failed to score a single century in the Ranji Trophy, Uthappa mustered a mere 95 runs from six games in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. The Kodava batsman didn’t shy away from agreeing that it was a humongous challenge to play in a new team.

“It was not at all easy to play for a different side. I wouldn’t advice it to everybody. I did make some good friends and the season did test my character. Changing states is a massive shift from your comfort zone. I faced a lot of challenges. Not just about cricket, but even outside the game, there were lot of things difficult for me. Handling different language was tough. Then the different food, it is a vegetarian state predominantly, something that I am not used to,” he expressed. 

Uthappa added that the change was a big test of his mental strength. “I am very big when it comes to loyalty. So when I left Karnataka it had an impact on me. It’s like leaving a part of your heart here. I practically grew up on this ground. But the experience taught me a lot of lessons,” he observed. 

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