Thank you Robbie: A farewell note as Robin Uthappa retires from Indian cricket
Yesterday marked the stepping down of a T20 behemoth from his hallowed pedestal as Robin Uthappa announced his retirement from international and all forms of domestic Indian cricket. A prolonged and wonderful career in the shorter formats of the game met its end after Robbie chose to call it a day and obtain NOC from BCCI to be a part of the overseas franchise tournaments.
Everyone is aware of the heroics that he has stitched over the years in IPL and he continues to serve a strong case for himself to this very day. However, when it comes to the international arena, he isn’t as renowned as the franchise arena remembers him to be but a couple of crucial knocks from him would remain etched in golden letters in the book of Indian cricketing antiquity.
World Cup T20 – 34 (28), vs Australia, Durban, 2007
The first one came in 2007 when India was up against Australia in the T20 World Cup semi-final. Batting first, the Men in Blue struggled to get the runs on the board as Sehwag and Gambhir departed early. Coming out to bat at number three, the onus was on Robbie to steer India clear to safety. The next man in was Yuvraj Singh and what followed thereafter from the hard-hitting southpaw is legendary stuff in India’s cricketing folklore.
But then there was one man who silently tagged along with Yuvraj to keep the partnership going and the duo put up 84 runs for the third wickets from just 39 balls before Symonds brought out the beast in him to catch Uthappa short of the popping crease.
If Yuvraj’s blitzkrieg was the glass-shattering crescendo, then Uthappa’s 28-ball-34 was the gentle overture, where the artist takes his own sweet time, caressing the keys of a piano gently while the audience very soothingly stays witness to the beginning of proceedings that would lead to an explosion a few moments later.
While Yuvi carried on with the rampage at one end, Uthappa joined in a couple of overs later where he stepped back and slammed a shortie from Symonds over the mid-wicket, crossing the ropes by a thousand rows back in the stands.
However, he saved the best for the last where he looked at a fire-breathing dragon in a Dennis Lillee-Esque Mitchell Johnson who had eyes for those glowing timbre every time he steamed in with his raw and brutal speed.
Matching steel for steel, the first ball of the over saw Uthappa walking down the pitch and smoking Johnson over long-off, making his intentions very clear. India was going for the kill and Uthappa was to pull the trigger. Knowing Johnson, he was not going to take a step back from the duel.
He followed the first ball of the over with a rib-rattler and Uthappa, the man who had fire gleaming in his eyes, swung his blade and the cherry was on its intergalactic odyssey beyond the ropes. Much to the woes of the fans, they couldn’t savor more of this mini-rivalry as Andrew Symonds produced an electric throw to remove Robbie from the center after a misunderstanding between the latter and Yuvraj.
India tour of Ireland, Scotland and England, 47* (33) vs England, The Oval, 2007
If modern cricket has taught us one thing, then it is to appreciate those crucial 30s at times instead of the ginormous tons. Somehow Robbie was a master of them. Another of those impressive cameos came against England back on their turf as Robin Uthappa steered the Indian ship across the lines at the Oval where India shook off a bad start to the series to level it 3-3 before a fiasco in the finale.
Chasing 317, India was off to a flyer as Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid opened up the floodgates for the Men in Blue to invade. Much to the disappointment of the Indian fans, there was a sudden collapse and the number of runs required seemed steeper than ever, and before India could get to safety they lost MS Dhoni while a staggering 23 was still needed of just 18 balls.
With just 1 run contributed from the remaining batters, Uthappa took it on himself to bail India out of a series defeat ahead of the finale and with 10 runs needed off the final over, India could barely manage 2 from the first two deliveries where they also lost Zaheer Khan to a run-out trying to shield Robbie.
Uthappa acknowledged the sacrifice and rocketed Broad straight down the track as he whipped a swashbuckling straight drive to bring down the equation in India’s favor. Even before Broad could recoil, Robbie sent the following ball through the covers to seal a landmark win for Team India.
RCB vs KKR, 50* (22), Chinnaswamy, 2010
Robin Uthappa came to the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the wee hours of the tournament as he was riding high on the tides of nascency in 2009. His first season was a bit of a hit and miss where he managed to amass 175 runs at a strike rate of 102. Despite a reticent opening season, the franchise pinned their hopes on Uthappa’s preceding exploits and he returned significant results in the following season as he piled up 374 runs at a stunning strike rate of 171 that starred 3 staggering half-centuries.
Now as we have already mentioned that Uthappa was an untenable juggernaut in the IPL, his unbeaten 50 from just 22 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders was a searing ode to his brilliance in the shortest format of the game in India’s franchise extravaganza. He joined forces with Ross Taylor and the duo sent Chinnaswamy in ruptures, taking the Kolkata bowlers apart at will.
The Challengers started their 2010 campaign with a defeat against the Kolkata Knight Riders. However, they were back on their feet as an extraordinary batting showdown ushered them across the finishing line followed by a clinical display against the Royals.
They seemed like a titan reborn as they slew Rajasthan Royals next, a win that laid down in the boldest of letters that this team was here to stay. Now coming back from a defeat to go forth in the next game is still kind on your psychological aspect as the expectations are low. But once you start winning on the trot, it is crucial to keep on winning for a while to prove It to the fans that you are in the tournament with a momentum never felt before. As RCB was rolling and rumbling, their next challenge was none other than the Chennai Super Kings.
And Robbie couldn’t pick up a better opponent to highlight why he is one of the best in business as he a smashed a blistering 68 against Chennai Super Kings at the Chinnaswamy, coming out to bat with RCB teetering at 59 for 2 and by the time he was done with his torment, the Challengers piled up a momentous 171, thanks to Uthappa’s unbeaten knock that came off just 38 deliveries.