Speaking to ESPN Cricinfo, Robin Uthappa, who created history with the bat in the just concluded IPL season scoring a record number of consecutive 40+ scores, picked Suresh Raina’s 87 off 25 deliveries, registered in the second qualifier match between Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab, as the best innings of the season.
“As far as skills are concerned, definitely (Raina’s). Raina held beautiful positions, played late, stood deep in the crease, made use of the bounce, played very clever cricket. I enjoyed watching him play without fear. Also, when you are chasing a massive score it gives a batsman the freedom to be brave. It was inspiring and I picked up some good things from Raina's innings,” Uthappa said.
Chasing a mammoth total of 227, the Super Kings reached 100 in just 6 overs. The incredible feat was accomplished by a lone hand from Suresh Raina, who scored all his runs in the Powerplay before being unfortunately run out, an event that turned out to be crucial as the MS Dhoni-led team lost the match.
It is to be noted that a few days back, Raina had nice things to say about Robin. Raina said that he hoped to see Robin back in Indian colours soon since the southpaw has been in terrific touch off late.
Uthappa, who was one of the main reasons behind Kolkata Knight Riders becoming the 2014 IPL champions, also explained more about what he considers as his best knock– 80 against Mumbai Indians at Cuttack.
“Two days before the Mumbai match in Cuttack, I was hit flush on my left big toe by a yorker-length delivery from Pat Cummins (in nets). He was bowling with a new ball that swung in. I batted through, but when I removed my shoe I had a broken nail and it was bleeding profusely. Andrew Leipus (Knight Riders' physiotherapist) gave me some painkillers.
“I was positive about playing the match considering we had to win it. I was wearing slippers the next day. But on match day, when I reached the ground, I realised I could not even get a sock on easily, let alone a shoe. I am a UK size 10, so Andrew suggested I try a bigger size. I tried one size bigger but that too was not going in. Then I tried Morne Morkel's size 12. But I could barely walk in them even though I hit some throwdowns. I could not put too much pressure on my leading leg as I was unable to get up on my toes.”
Explaining his pre-match anxieties, he said: “I had doubts whether I would be able to play the match. I was feeling uncomfortable in Morne's shoes. Andrew suggested I wear something with an open toe to take the pressure off. Jacques Kallis had his bowling boots, which were size 11. Andrew built a nice, thick protection cap over the cut part of the shoe to provide a good cushion.”
“Fortunately we bowled first and it gave me little more time to adjust to the shoe. I finished with the Man-of-the-Match award with an 80. I thanked Kallis and played in them till the qualifier.”
Robin Uthappa is set to take part in the 3-match ODI series against Bangladesh starting on June 15 at Dhaka.