After the franchise’s worst season since the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) did something it had never done before the auction in February — completing its first trade by signing Robin Uthappa from Rajasthan Royals.
After Suresh Raina opted out of the tournament last year, the team could not find a suitable Indian replacement to anchor the batting, an ability Uthappa can bring to the table.
“I am very excited and proud to represent a team like CSK. I am happy the team has put faith in my ability and I am hopeful of a good season,” said the 35-year-old, who was part of India’s World T20-winning side in 2007.
Uthappa is coming off a good domestic season for Kerala where he scored 377 runs in six matches in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
“I am at a happy place in my life and feel confident after a good domestic season. I know the IPL is a level higher, but having runs under your belt is a confidence booster always,” he added.
While Uthappa is yet to receive formal communication about his role in the team, the batsman from Karnataka feels he could be at his best while opening the innings.
Speaking about the expectations for the season, Uthappa felt that on paper CSK still has a formidable side and playing in India should also work to the team’s advantage. “The team has always started the tournament well, getting early momentum and holding on to it. So that will be crucial,” he said.
The three-time champion has always preferred experience over youth and gets the maximum out of its players, like it did in using Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu to good effect in 2018, and that is something Uthappa is eager to experience.
“I spoke to Amba (Rayudu) and Suresh Raina as well, and they said I am at the right place at the right time. I thrive when I am backed like most cricketers. When you are not bothered about selection, you are focusing just on performing and doing well for the team, not performing for your spot which helps a player,” he said.