Hard work pays off? Not if you are Robin Uthappa!
The wait is over. Ending all speculation, Indian selectors have announced their 15-man World Cup squad. While it has all the expected names, selectors left the cricket fraternity gobsmacked by excluding Robin Uthappa from the much-awaited list.
Over the last one week or so, on various television channels, most cricket experts picked Uthappa in their 15-man list. Unlike Yuvraj Singh, Uthappa was one name which most experts backed unanimously.
His inclusion would have made the Indian batting line up a balanced outfit, as along with a wicketkeeper, Uthappa could also have played at the top of the order alongside Ajinkya Rahane.
Uthappa, who made his ODI debut for the Indian team way back in 2006, made headlines during the Indian Premier League last year, where playing for Kolkata Knight Riders, he slammed 11 consecutive 40 plus scores, which was a new world record in T20 cricket.
He looked a different player after having worked a lot on his technique and put a prize on his wicket every time he came to bat. It was his incredible run that resulted in KKR ending up winning the event, despite a pathetic start.
To show that his performances in the IPL 2014 were no fluke, Uthappa played formidable knocks for Karnataka in domestic cricket and continued to score on a consistent basis even in the Champions League T20.
But the selectors once again ignored the overseas failures of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, who are now likely to be a regular part of India's World Cup playing eleven.
While Dhawan has scored just one ODI century in 2014, Rohit has done nothing substantial overseas, barring his historic 264-run knock. Both these innings were played in India and the duo has struggled to prove their mettle overseas. Even though Rohit scored 79 runs against New Zealand at Hamilton, he has failed to deliver with the bat on a regular basis, which has been one of the major reasons for India's failure overseas.
For reasons unknown, despite his red-hot form, selectors didn't give Uthappa enough opportunities right throughout 2014. While he was selected for the three-match ODI series against Bangladesh, the selection wasn't on merit but based on the fact that senior players had been rested. He then got to play two ODIs against Sri Lanka, but instead of opening the innings, Uthappa was asked to bat in the middle-order, with hardly any time left to showcase his skills.
Uthappa is one of those cricketers who did everything possible to make a comeback into the Indian squad. He worked on his technique, fitness and even hired a personal coach to enhance his cricketing skills. But all seems to have gone in vain now.
Indian team needed somebody like Uthappa at the top of the order, who could score runs freely, at the same time making sure to not lose his wicket early in the innings.
While the selectors have reposed their faith in Rohit and Shikhar, one might wonder if they had the recent form of players in mind when they met for the crucial meeting.