Robin Uthappa has been left out of Karnataka's 16-man squad for the Ranji Trophy quarter-final against Tamil Nadu, which starts on December 23 in Visakhapatnam. The team's line-up will be boosted by the availability of KL Rahul, Karun Nair and Manish Pandey, all of whom are currently with the India Test squad in Chennai.
Rahul and Nair, who made 199 and 303 not out respectively in the final Test against England, will join the squad directly in Visakhapatnam along with Pandey. The 13 other players and the support staff will fly out on Tuesday, following the conclusion of a five-day training camp at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.
"With the three batsmen back, selection was a tough process. We collectively decided to rest Robin since we couldn't play him in the XI," R Sudhakar Rao, KSCA's chairman of selectors, said on Monday. "The newcomers have done well and it would have been unfair to drop them, so we have taken the decision keeping the future of Karnataka cricket in mind."
Uthappa, the side's highest run-getter last season, has made 328 runs in 12 innings at 27.33 in 2016-17. His only century came against Assam in October. With no fifty-plus score in eight innings since, he was left out of Karnataka's final league fixture against Maharashtra in Mohali.
"There is nothing wrong with his batting, but sometimes numbers matter, especially when people are waiting to get a chance. It's just the numbers," head coach J Arunkumar said. "Last year, at the start of the season, he was trying out a few things. After a point, I told him to stop focussing on that and focus on making runs. Soon after that, he started making runs. Even this season, I was hoping something like that would happen.
"We thought that one game before the knockout we should try somebody out just in case of an injury, or if somebody is not allowed to play because of national duty. We just wanted to try Pavan Deshpande and Arjun Hoysala to see if the guys belonged in that space and if they are confident enough.
"We wanted to make sure we are going in prepared for the knockout stages. Otherwise Robin is batting really well. He's getting off to great starts and he's getting out to some odd balls. It's sad that we have to rest a big player. We need big players like him, because they have been there and done that."