After struggling to get going in the first seven matches, Robin Uthappa finally hit form on Saturday against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Opening the batting for the first time in IPL 2020, Uthappa scored 41 off 22 balls up front with seven boundaries and one six to give Rajasthan Royals a solid start.
Ahead of the match, Uthappa had scores of 5, 9, 2, 17, 18 and 32, batting in the middle order. But when promoted up the order, Uthappa batted with flair and scored quick boundaries to put pressure on the opposition. After off-spinner Washington Sundar bowled a tight first over, off which RR got just two runs, Uthappa smacked four boundaries off his next to get RCB a move on.
Next over, Uthappa clubbed a four and a six over Isuru Udana’s head and three overs later, belted back-to-back boundaries off Navdeep Saini. It was the Uthappa of old, the one who guided Kolkata Knight Riders to their second IPL title in 2014, bagging the Orange Cap with 660 runs. Unfortunately, just when he looked set for his first half-century of the season, he mistimed leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal to be out caught in the deep by Aaron Finch.
“It’s been a while, I really enjoyed it (opening the innings), wanted to give a good start to the team. Going hard at the top was important, the pitch became slower and slower as the innings progressed. We were losing a lot of wickets at the top of the order, couldn’t get a start, we needed to plug that, get partnerships going (talking about the change in the batting order),” Uthappa said at the innings interval.
“If we were told we would get 177 (at the start), we would have happily taken it. Glad that I got the opportunity to open – the wickets are slowing down, and I think it will further slow down as the tournament progresses. We are confident about defending this – have a decent bowling attack, but they have a good batting line-up as well.”
As soon as Uthappa cracked his first boundary of the innings, he went past 4500 runs in the IPL and entered a list comprising some big names. Uthappa became the ninth player overall but only the fifth Indian batsmen after Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and MS Dhoni to get to the landmark. Of the 4535 runs he’s scored in his IPL career, 2439 have come playing for KKR across six seasons.