Robin Uthappa: ‘KKR has a strong core for the next 5-7 years’

Uthappa, who has been around since the inception of the IPL in 2008, said that the game has changed a lot since the first year and has become more “power-oriented”.

Robin Uthappa has failed to convert his starts this season, not scoring a 50 after nine games.   -  AP

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vice-captain Robin Uthappa feels that the team now has a strong core group of players, who can deliver for the next 5-7 years.

“I think, we have got a side that can hold strong core for the next 5-7 years easily,” Uthappa told KKR’s official website on the eve of its Indian Premier League (IPL) away tie against Mumbai Indians.

“So, for me, I think that is commendable to have that kind of a side. It’s commendable to have decision maker, to have such setup,” he added, talking about KKR having a young set of players this time and minimal squad.

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The likes of U-19 World Cup winners Shubman Gill and Shivam Mavi have done well so far for the two-time champion, while pacer Kamlesh Nagarkoti had to be ruled out of the competition due to injury.

Gill was instrumental in KKR’s convincing six-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the previous encounter. The 18-year old, who was adjudged the Player of the Tournament in the U-19 World Cup, remained unbeaten on 57 off 36 balls to guide the purple brigade to victory.

In the same match, Mavi bowled superbly, conceding just 21 runs in his three overs, although not getting a wicket. The likes of unheralded Rinku Singh have also been picked up by the franchise, underlining its desire to promote young talent.

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Uthappa, who has been around since the inception of the IPL in 2008, said that the game has changed a lot since the first year and has become more “power-oriented”.

“I think it’s the way cricket is moving right now. If you look at it, it is becoming a sport that is more dynamic, that is more power-oriented. Cricket has changed from the time.”

“I started playing the IPL to where it is today. It has changed tremendously. We are at that stage where everything is growing and is learning to walk, and is just beginning to take strides and running.”

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“So, I think, we are only going to see what it’s going to be like in the next five or 10 years, which will dictate what it’s going to be in the next century,” the 32-year old, 2007 World T20 winner, said.

With wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik taking over as the skipper from Gautam Gambhir this season, Uthappa has made way for the former behind the stumps.

Quizzed about his experience as an outfield player, the clean-hitting right-hander said, “I am loving it. I absolutely love fielding. It’s a lot of fun. You are involved in the game so much more. You are running. You are trying to help out the bowler as much as you can.”

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“With every ball, you are in, in the game. It’s not like you are not when you are keeping. However, you know, you are always on the move, which I enjoy completely.”

Generally, an important cog in KKR’s wheel, Uthappa has failed to convert his starts this season, not scoring a 50 after nine games.

“Well, I think, everything is going to reveal in the days to come. I would like my bat to speak, instead of me speaking,” he said, when asked about his pedestrian form.

KKR is third in the points table with 10 points from nine outings.