IPL 2018: Uthappa bullish about KKR's batting

KKR, with its 19-man pool, has the smallest bench strength this season. It has three core batsmen — Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik and Chris Lynn — and has invested in local talents, Ishank Jaggi and Nitish Rana.

Kolkata Knight Riders has retained Robin Uthappa for Rs 6.4 crore and the 32-year-old is willing to take the mantle of captaincy in IPL 2018.   -  Vivek Bendre

Despite interest from many franchises, wicket-keeper batsman Robin Uthappa is glad to be back with the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), which retained him through the Right-to-Match option in the Indian Premier League auctions earlier this month. 

"The initial five or six years of the IPL, I moved around a lot, so for me to find one place I could call home was important," Uthappa told Sportstar

"The people back in Kolkata are absolutely fantastic, they've treated me with so much love and care. Even the team management has stood by me right from the time I joined them," he added. 

KKR, with its 19-man pool, has the smallest bench strength this season. It has three core batsmen — Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik and Chris Lynn — and has invested in local talents, Ishank Jaggi and Nitish Rana. Does that make the batting look a touch light compared to the previous seasons?

Read: Knight Riders goes big on uncapped talents

"I think we've to understand the value the Indian domestic players bring into the franchise," the 32-year-old, who was retained for Rs 6.4 crore in the IPL auctions, said. 

"It is only when you give them responsibilities that you find out whether they are going to flourish as athletes or learn how to handle the pressure. What the team has done is, it has given them a chance to expose themselves to some quality international cricket and see how the boys do. 

"I think it's great foresight. A lot of the domestic Indian batters must be gung-ho about playing in the first team and that's a great position to be in," he added.

Also read: IPL value not true reflection of calibre, says Sourav Ganguly

About India U-19 vice-captain Shubman Gill, who was snapped up by KKR for Rs 1.8 crore, Uthappa said, "(Shubman) Gill has got a very strong game, I think he's a naturally aggressive player. And he looks very versatile at this point in time.

"Obviously, the variations and pace (in IPL) are going to be different  — it'll be five or 10 clicks faster. It's about acclimatising to the conditions but I feel these guys will do great because of the kind of exposure they've had at such a young age. The next few years are going to be strong years for KKR."

Asked if he'll be willing to take the mantle of captaincy in IPL 2018, the dynamic opener said, "Of course, I am. I'll be honoured if the opportunity came along but it's for the think-tank to decide — whatever role they want me to take, I'll give my 110 percent. Adding value to my team as a cricketer is crucial to my game."