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Uthappa sets eyes on second consecutive treble

Karnataka batsman Robin Uthappa has said that his team is "inspired" to accomplish an "unprecedented feat" of winning three domestic titles in consecutive seasons ahead of their Irani Cup tie in Bangalore against Rest of India

Gaurav Kalra
Gaurav Kalra
Karnataka batsman Robin Uthappa has said that his team is "inspired" to accomplish an "unprecedented feat" of winning three domestic titles in consecutive seasons ahead of their Irani Cup tie in Bangalore against Rest of India. Karnataka demolished Tamil Nadu in the final to win the Ranji trophy in Mumbai last week, but Uthappa told ESPNcricinfo that the celebrations had been "muted" as the players were focused on continuing their dominance in the domestic circuit.
"We know that no team in the world has won three domestic titles back to back and I don't think any team has done it twice in two years," he said. "It will be a great feat. We are on course right now for an encore. We just need to win the next one. As a team we do well because we are inspired to play the next level. We want to dominate the scene here with strong performances and that's what we have done as a team and as individuals as well. In each aspect, in each skill that we've performed as batting unit, bowling unit, in different positions, as an allrounder, everyone has done really well for themselves."
Karnataka's second consecutive Ranji title was their fifth in a row on the domestic circuit, having won the 50-over Vijay Hazare tournament over the last couple of years as well as last season's Irani Cup. Although the Ranji final was a one-sided affair, Uthappa said defending the title was a "lot more challenging" than winning it last season.
"There is a lit bit more pressure but we sensed that as we won all three domestic titles last year and we knew that there would be a lot of naysayers," he said. "But we took that up as a challenge, we are going to take it one game at a time and we are going to win everything that's possible. We've felt a really good attitude, worked very hard and bearing the fruits of it right now. We played on a lot of green tops this year, it was good for our bowlers, but for the batsmen it was challenging. But we performed really well as a batting unit, we've had some stellar performances, so its been a great year."
Uthappa was one of the players to put in "stellar performances", finishing the season as the highest run-getter with 912 at an average of 50.66 along with two centuries. He credits his success to a strong "work ethic" and having "figured out his game a lot more now."
"I am sticking to what works for me, not trying to change anything. I just need to keep monitoring my batting, I just need to know what helps me prepare well, what helps me stay in the right mindset. There are a few areas that I am still working on. This season I had a few rough games, where I had four zeroes and still ended up becoming the top scorer. I want to make sure that those things don't happen again. I want to make every innings I play count."
Although Uthappa briefly earned a recall to the Indian team for a one-day series in Bangladesh last year, he remains on the fringe of the national set-up. Still, he is convinced that if he "continues in the same way," a recall is on the cards "sooner or later."
"Winning the India Test cap is what's driving me, that's always driven me. I came back into the game three years ago because I wanted to don the Test cap," he says. "I think I am getting closer to that dream, I just need to keep working, stacking up the runs and performing. Just lay out all the options, put it all out there and let the selectors take a call."
Once the Irani Cup is completed, Uthappa will have another chance to press his case for a national call-up with the IPL kicking off on April 8. Uthappa was the leading scorer in the tournament last year, making 660 runs at an average of 44, playing a key role in Kolkata Knight Riders' second triumph in three years.
"I am looking forward to it," he said. "We have to defend our title there as well, its going to be a lot of fun. We have the team equipped to do that. Hopefully its going to be a fantastic year."

Gaurav Kalra is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo. @gauravkalra75