Arunkumar: 'Uthappa’s numbers were not good enough'

J. Arunkumar contends that Karnataka's loss to Saurashtra was a timely wake up call for the side.

While explaining dropping Robin Uthappa, J. Arunkumar said that sometimes numbers matter especially when there are other players waiting for a chance.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

J. Arunkumar’s normally relaxed demeanour turns into a grimace when he is asked about the decision to drop Robin Uthappa.

Uthappa, a regular fixture in the Karnataka side for over a decade now, was left out of the eleven for the Ranji Trophy fixture against Maharashtra earlier this month. Uthappa had not recorded a fifty in four matches, which left the team management with a difficult decision to make.

For Arunkumar, it hit close to home. “Every time I tell somebody that they are not playing, it reminds me of my own career, when somebody came up to me and told me that I was not playing. It was shocking.

“From being captain, I was suddenly out. I know how it feels. It’s the most difficult part about being the coach, but you have to do it. In the end, it’s about Team Karnataka and not any individual,” he says.

The head coach explains that Uthappa’s numbers were not good enough. “Sometimes numbers matter, especially when there are other people waiting for a chance.

“In the past, we have dropped guys like A. Mithun and S. Arvind because they didn’t have the numbers. It is sad to rest a big player like Robin. I hope that he returns to the team soon,” Arunkumar says.

Karnataka has entered the quarterfinal stage at a canter, having recorded five outright victories in eight matches. There was, however, a hiccup along the way. In its penultimate group match, the unit lost to Saurashtra, at Patiala. Arunkumar contends that it was a timely wake up call.

“We didn’t play well on a spinning track. That was a good wake up call for us. We concentrate a lot on seaming tracks, since we have lot of pacers. We know where our shortcomings are, and we are working on correcting it,” he says.

Arunkumar is full of praise for newcomers like Kaunain Abbas (four fifties in his six first-class outings so far), Pavan Deshpande (70 in his debut match, against Maharashtra), and off-spinner K. Gowtham (27 wickets in eight matches). With players leaving for India duty frequently, it is important for the replacements to hit the ground running.

“All 30 of our probables are good enough to play Ranji Trophy. So when someone gets a chance in the eleven, they have to grab it,” he says.