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IPL 2017, Match 30, RPS v KKR: CT Player of the Match – Robin Uthappa

“Why do we need Batman when we have Robin (Uthappa)?”

Robin Uthappa
Robin Uthappa. (Photo Source: BCCI)

The Kolkata Knight Riders can lay their claim on the title of the ‘best chasers’ in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League so far. Apart from winning a close game against the Delhi Daredevils, the Knight Riders have been part of two of the most dominant chases of this IPL.

First, there was Chris Lynn-sanity which blew the Gujarat Lions away in their own backyard. On the night against the Rising Pune Supergiant, however, it was Robin Uthappa who stepped up to the challenge.

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Robin – the T20 specialist

Uthappa is a former Orange Cap winner, whose 660 runs in the 2014 season of the tournament propelled KKR to the all-important final. He has the ability to time the ball sweetly, whether it is shots along the ground, or balls that sail into the stands.

His consistency in the shortest format of the game has been remarkable, as he’s turned up in every season of the IPL and has been amongst the runs. Despite being a makeshift wicketkeeper, Robin has also done a tidy job behind the stumps for the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Crucial stumpings

Put in to bat first, hosts Rising Pune Supergiant got off to a blistering start with openers Rahul Tripathi and Ajinkya Rahane. KKR arrested the opposition’s momentum slightly after removing Tripathi, but Rahane’s wicket was perhaps a game changer. Robin Uthappa was the man to be credited for the crucial dismissal.

Robin Uthappa was the man to be credited for the crucial dismissal. He caught Rahane’s foot millimetres off the ground when he whipped the bails off.

Rahane’s wicket brought MS Dhoni to the crease, who came out with some serious intent. He smashed an 11-ball 23 until a Kuldeep Yadav googly drew him out of the crease. Dhoni was left stranded halfway down the wicket as Uthappa executed an easy stumping.

In hindsight, that was a turning point in the RPS innings, as Dhoni could have easily taken the team total beyond 200.

Uthappa’s awareness behind the stumps was once again on display in that eventful Kuldeep over. The keeper stumped the dangerous Manoj Tiwary for just 1 run. The Supergiant had partly lost their way at 150/4 andUthappa had a major role to play in four of those dismissals.

Costly drop?

Chasing 183 to win, KKR lost the flamboyant Sunil Narine early in an unfortunate run-out. The visitors looked like they were stuttering after Narine’s wicket. The Rising Pune Supergiant had an opportunity to remove Robin Uthappa on 12 as well. It was another slog sweep gone wrong with lot of elevation but not enough distance.

It was another slog sweep gone wrong with a lot of elevation but not enough distance. Jaydev Unadkat, however, made a mess of it near the boundary as the ball went right through his hands, bounced and trickled over the rope. RPS hoped that the dropped chance wouldn’t prove costly. They were wrong.

Robin-Onslaught

The Supergiant team began to pay for the spilled catch the very next over. Uthappa smashed youngster Washington Sundar for a four followed by two back to back sixes in the 7th over. The boundaries became a regular sight as Robin took on Imran Tahir and Jaydev Unadkat in consecutive overs.

From a quiet start which saw Uthappa nudging the ball while he was on 11 off 10, the wicketkeeper-batsman brought up a fantastic 50 off just 26 balls.

It wasn’t enough though for Robin Uthappa. The boundaries came easily off his bat. He treated the better bowlers in the RPS side with disdain. As Dan Christian dropped one short, Uthappa clobbered it over deep mid-wicket and sent it into the crowd – perhaps the shot that summed up his belligerent innings.

There was no respite for Imran Tahir either as he went for two consecutive sixes in the 16th over. In no time, Uthappa raced from his well-crafted 50 to 87 off just 47 deliveries. Unadkat finally managed to remove him as he skewed one into the air for Tripathi to pouch it safely.

Nevertheless, his wicket didn’t make the slightest difference to the result of the game. Uthappa’s onslaught had left KKR five runs away from victory, and his team comfortably centred to a 7-wicket win with 11 balls to spare.

The Kolkata Knight Riders thus displaced the Mumbai Indians to once again occupy the top position on the table. After that kind of performance, arguably, that is the only place they deserve to be. The man who engineered this authoritative victory for KKR was of course Robin Uthappa.

At one point, the giant screen rightfully read, “Why do we need Batman when we have Robin (Uthappa)?” The Knight Riders would hope Robin comes to the party on a regular basis as the team heads into the business end of the tournament.

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