The speculation is over and the local boy is back to where he belongs. With Robin Uthappa joining Royal Challengers Bangalore as a money-free swap for pacer Zaheer Khan, the team management is optimistic that the dashing batsman will solve their batting woes that pegged the side back in the inaugural edition of Indian Premier League (IPL).
The deal was clinched on Wednesday and was confirmed by a highly-placed RCB source but what assumes significance is the role Uthappa has to play to trigger a turnaround in the fortunes of Vijay Mallya-owned squad.
Equipped with an inherent aggressive style of batting that suits the T20 format best, Uthappa will be at the core of new coach Ray Jennings’s revival plans.
The South African coach has already spent some time with the Karnataka side this Ranji Trophy season which also saw Uthappa taking over as captain of the state side.
The Kodava topped the batting charts for his state with 599 runs with all the big knocks coming in his favourite opening slot.
In fact, the opening slot is a matter of concern for Royal Challengers Bangalore with as many as 11 combinations tested in 14 matches last season.
Altogether, 10 players were used as openers and the situation was so abysmal that the highest opening stand was 37, between Rahul Dravid and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
Uthappa would probably relish the opportunity to go after the opponent bowling right from the first ball though RCB CEO Brijesh Patel felt that “in T20 cricket, batting line-up remains flexible”. Interestingly, Mumbai Indians never used Uthappa as an opener.
It is true that Uthappa fell short of his $850,000 reputation during his Mumbai Indians stint but he got 320 runs to his name, at 35.56 with a strike-rate of 114.7, far ahead of any of the Bangalore batsmen.
His transfer with Zaheer (priced at $450,000!), probably the best left-arm pacers in the world now, makes sense when it comes to his famed pyrotechnics with the bat.
Also, it goes without saying that the RCB fans will root for their own boy.