The 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League was the worst CSK had in the history of the tournament. One of the main reason for CSK’s struggle was the poor performances of their openers. Neither did Murali Vijay, nor Shane Watson was performing well which put intense pressure on the middle order. Ruturaj Gaikwad did well in the limited opportunities he got but he lacked support from the other end. With Watson drawing curtains on his career and CSK releasing Murali Vijay, finding a suitable opening pair was one of the prime concerns of Chennai Super Kings in the IPL auction 2021. They strike gold when they purchased Robin Uthappa for the next edition. Though it’s not certain whether they’ll play him as an opener or in the middle order, Uthappa has expressed his desire to open for the yellow brigade. Since his purchase, Uthappa has lit the domestic league as an opener with 377 for Kerela in the Vijay Hazare trophy at a strike rate of 131.81 and an average of 75.40. In the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, he stroked 161 runs at a strike rate of 140.
“I would definitely like to play as an opener. It is where I naturally thrive. Getting the team off to a good start and winning matches for the team is what I am most comfortable doing. In the last few years, people have tried to use me in positions that I am not necessarily good at,” Uthappa told TOI on Wednesday.
Last season, Rajasthan Royal used Uthappa in the middle order, a move that didn’t yield positive results. Eventually, they had to use him at the top. Uthappa added that he’s done well every time he’s been asked to open. The 35 yr old further opened on his relationship with MS Dhoni and added that they share a great bond. He revealed that he was in touch with Dhoni even when he was not playing for India.
“I have got the fondest memories with Dhoni. We met for the first time during a Challenger Trophy campaign and played an NCA (National Cricket Academy) match together around 2004. We were very close when we were playing for India together. Since then, we have always been in touch.
When the IPL schedule was announced, CSK was one of the first teams to express their disappointment as they’ll be playing all their matches on neutral venues. Commenting on the same, Uthappa said that not playing at home won’t affect them much as every ground in India supports the spinners.
“It is definitely a level playing field since no team is playing at home. As we are playing in India, spin will still play a role, especially at the back end of the tournament. It is unfortunate that we are not playing at home and in front of our fans, but home advantage is being nullified for all teams,” he said.