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Hey Selectors, This Robin is a Keeper!


India has never been a country blessed with superb wicket-keeper batsmen. We have had some really good gloves men who weren't so great in front of the stumps. But today's style of cricket demands keepers who can handle the bat well. With a lot of cricket being played, India's premier wicketkeeper batsmen Mahender Singh Dhoni is often troubled by fatigue and injuries. This is why we need some alternatives just as a cover in case Dhoni gets injured during the much awaited 2011 World Cup.

For this reason, the selectors decided to rest Dhoni and give Wriddhiman Saha and Parthiv Patel a go against the Kiwis in the ODI series. Tamil Nadu's Dinesh Karthik is also another tried and tested option. However, he hasn't impressed with the bat much. To be fair to Parthiv Patel, he has done well in the two recent matches that he played. But, to find the perfect 15 for the world cup India should have also given a chance to Robin Uthappa.

The Karnataka batsman was once a wicket keeper but decided to drop the gloves like fellow Bangalore batsman Rahul Dravid. However, in IPL 3, Uthappa did the keeping job for the Royal Challengers Bangalore team to give them much needed flexibility. In the last year or so, he has again taken up wicket keeping to improve his chances of getting back into the Indian team. He isn't as good a keeper as Parthiv, Saha or Karthik are, but when it comes to batting he beats them hands down.

After initially being a top-order batsman, the young lad is now working towards becoming a useful wicket keeper and middle order batsman. Uthappa has shown great temperament under pressure in T20s as well as in ODIs. He has all the shots in the book and can unsettle bowling line-ups with his attacking stroke play. Such a batsman could be ideal for batting in the lower middle order, if Dhoni is unfit for any World Cup matches. The big plus about him is the fact that he can start playing the big shots without taking much time to settle. This could be crucial if he comes into bat during the last 10 overs or during a high scoring run chase.

After Parthiv’s recent performances, he will surely be the favourite to be picked as second wicket keeper. He has shown he can bat at the top, but with Gambhir, Sachin and Sehwag fit we don’t need another opening batsmen. Rather a middle order batsman who can smash it under pressure will be more useful. This is exactly where Uthappa could be handy. His hard hitting abilities are much better than Parthiv’s and provides the right flexibility to the captain.

In the last IPL, Uthappa notched up 374 runs at astonishing strike rate of 171, yet he wasn't picked for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup 2010 held right after the tournament. Since the spot as a wicket keeper won't open up too often, due to the presence of Dhoni, it wouldn't be a bad call to pick someone who might not be the best behind the wicket and would contribute more with the bat instead. It is high time the selectors try him out in a couple of matches prior to the World Cup.

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