QUEEN’S ROAD:Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey and Stuart Binny, all from Karnataka, after getting into the Indian cricket team for the tour of Zimbabwe are ready to shine on behalf of the state and the country.
There was a time when players like Javagal Srinath,Venkatesh Prasad, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Sunil Joshi had worn India's colours but then there was a long period when Karnataka's cricketers failed to make the grade.
But Karnataka won the Ranji Trophy for two years in a row. They also bagged two other titles and sparkled on the national stage. Many of them put up a good show for their franchisees in the IPL and hence caught the eye of the selectors.
Robin Uthappa, a wicket-keeper batsman makes a come back, all rounder Stuart Binny gets a chance to consolidate his place while Manish Pandey makes his debut for the first time.
“The KPL has contributed immensely in enabling players to come up. Many Karnataka players are regulars in various IPL teams and were knocking on the doors of international cricket,” Brijesh Patel, secretary KSCA said recently.
Brijesh’s comments have been proved right with three players from Karnataka being selected from Karnataka. With Dhawal Kulkarni, Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, and Sandeep Sharma being chosen, it is unfortunate that Karnataka's skipper and medium pacer Vinay Kumar does not find a place in the national team.
Famous for being the first Indian to score a century in IPL cricket, Manish Pandey was a member of the victorious under-19 World Cup team in 2008 in Malaysia. A year after playing for Royal Challengers in the IPL, he joined Mumbai Indians and later the Kolkata Knight Riders.
He was the man of match in the final in 2014 when he scored 94 for KKR against Kings XI Punjab. “I am delighted to be selected for the senior team for the first time. I have been in good touch and hope to carry it on,” Pandey told the Express.
Asked if the decision to rest some regulars or his form was the reason for his selection, Pandey was candid enough to say a bit of both.
“Well, I think a bit of both contributed to my selection. Now my priority would be to make use of the opportunities I get and stay in the team for as long as I possibly can,” added Pandey.
Robin Uthappa made his ODI debut on the tour of England in 2006. He was in the side for the series against the West Indies a year later too. The same year Uthappa was in the 15-member squad for the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies. In 2007-08, he did well in the NatWest Series as well and was part of the World Cup team in South Africa too. He led the India A team on its tour of Australia in 2013. In November 2014, he was included in the team for the last two ODI’s against Sri Lanka. He was in the 30 for the 2015 World Cup but did not make the final cut.
“Yes, I am very happy to be back in the team. I have been doing well in all forms of the game everytime I have got the chance. Perhaps, my good form went in my favour. Now my objective is to reproduce the same form and do well for the team,” said Uthappa.