India news January 24, 2011

Uthappa still craves national cap

ESPNcricinfo staff

Robin Uthappa may have forged a lucrative career in the IPL with his clean hitting, but has said that he still craves the India cap, though he hasn't represented the country since 2008. Uthappa fetched a whopping $2.1 million from the Pune franchise at the 2011 IPL auction, making him the second most expensive cricketer in the league, after Gautam Gambhir.

"It feels pretty good and satisfying," Uthappa told PTI. "There are people who think that I am worth that much. [But] eventually my passion is to play for the country first. The India cap is lot dearer to me than playing in the IPL. Players should strive hard to represent their country first than go for the IPL event. When they play for their country, their worth becomes that much that they can command good money.

"I hope to do well in the IPL and also hope that the [India] selectors take note of my performance. I have always tried to perform to the best of my abilities whenever I have got an opportunity to play for the country. But it's up to the selectors whether I fit in their scheme of things or not."

Uthappa played for India in the 2007 one-day World Cup and was a key member of their World Twenty20 success the same year. However, he lost his place in the limited-overs' sides after a series of poor performances. Following two indifferent seasons, he proved his worth in IPL 2010 as an attacking batsman-wicketkeeper for Bangalore, leading to his astronomical valuation at the auction earlier this month.

"To be honest, I don't know how to react," Uthappa said about his price tag. "But I was sure to come somewhere close to that amount. The fact that I belong to Pune Warriors, makes me responsible towards them. I will play to the best of my ability for my new team. I am okay with the swapping [from Bangalore to Pune]. New team and new thinking, that's all. Naturally, there was a bonding, but that's okay."

Uthappa's biggest strength as a batsman is his ability to walk down the track to fast bowlers, and hit them straight or with a horizontal bat, depending on the length bowled. "People are becoming lot more open-minded about the shots," he explained. "It depends on the situation and how much you have practiced. As a batsman, you are experimenting more with the sweep shot, the paddle-sweep, you walk down and play those shots. It's all innovation and it is only going to go forward."