Mumbai: Robin Uthappa is excited that he will at last get a full series of ODIs and T20s to show his wares as a top order batsman who can also keep wickets during the upcoming short trip to Zimbabwe.
"I am pretty excited. The last few years I have been getting just one-off games at the end of the series. So I am pretty excited to get a complete series and, you know, a complete series with me keeping wickets. I believe and assume I will be keeping wickets. I am the only one (in the squad) who keeps (wickets) in domestic cricket," said the hard-hitting Karnataka opener during the open media session here on Monday ahead of the squad's departure on Tuesday morning.
"As a wicket-keeper you get a close view of the wicket. There’s a lot of information you get as a wicket-keeper on how the pitches play and what kinds of angles are available for batsmen," said the Bengaluru player, who will be one of the key members of the second-string India squad led by Ajinkya Rahane.
The tour commences on July 10 with the first of three ODIs and ends with the second and last T20 and all matches are to be played at one venue, Harare.
Uthappa said he has prepared well for the tour. "The preparations have been good. I have stuck to the same preparations and practice mode. I am paying the same amount of time on keeping and batting. I want to do that job well for the country," he said.
Though considered as a limited overs specialist at the international level, Uthappa said his dream was to represent the country in Test cricket. "The goal is to play for India at the Test level. I will represent India in Tests, that’s the dream I have," he pointed out.
Another batsman who has been in and out of ODIs but was part of the World Cup squad, Ambati Rayudu, is also glad to get the opportunity to play for the country at a place where he has played before.
"The conditions were challenging and the ball swings around. In terms of cricket it was a good tour," said Rayudu, who was part of the Virat Kohli-led squad that whitewashed the hosts 5-0 in three ODIs and two T20s in the earlier visit in 2013.
The soft-spoken and shy Rayudu was flummoxed when asked about India’s domination of Zimbabwe and said he was hearing the statistical details for the first time from one of the scribes.
On India missing some top players, Rayudu said it provided opportunity for others. "All I want to say is we are a good team. Everyone is well prepared and the tour provides an opportunity to all the players in the team," he said.
Asked about his aggressive instincts as a batsman when he started out at the under-19 level, Rayudu said even now his instinct was aggressive but it gets tempered with the situation the team finds itself in.
"Even now my instinct is to play aggressive cricket. But I control that as per match situations," he said.
Asked about Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s comments that he rotated the strike well, Rayudu smiled and said, "I try constantly to improve as a player like everyone else does. I have been working hard to improve my game."
He did not agree that there would be extra pressure on the players after the 1-2 series loss to Bangladesh recently. "I don’t think so. It’s an opportunity for everyone," Rayudu added.
He agreed that the absence of Brendon Taylor from the Zimbabwe line-up would help the Indians. "It’s a big advantage for us that he’s not there. He has always been a big player," he said.
Kedar Jadhav said that it was a very good opportunity for him to prove his mettle. "This is the best opportunity for me to prove my ability at the international level by scoring runs consistently. My mental strength is whenever tough situation arises I perform well. I am excited to play under Ajinkya’s captaincy. He’s a good friend of mine. I will share my experience with him," Jadhav said.
"On the current tour I am not thinking about keeping wickets," added the Maharashtra player, who also is an option behind the stumps in the squad that has not carried a frontline wicket-keeper.
"I will be happy to bat at any position as per the needs of the team," he said when asked about his preferred position in the batting order.
All-rounder Stuart Binny said that after ten years in domestic cricket he knows his game. "I have been playing ten years of Ranji Trophy. I have a role to fulfill as a bowler who needs to bowl 6-10 overs (in ODIs) and in batting too. I have worked hard on my bowling to fulfill that role. Playing in the tri-series in Australia helped me a lot," he said.
"I have found that at the international level the length counts a lot more. At the domestic level you don’t see that much power from the batsmen," said the Bengaluru all rounder.
"You don’t need to bowl at 140 kmph. I know I will never be able to do it. I aim to be accurate, aiming at the top of off stump and I like to bowl a harder length," he added.
Binny said he was happy to open the bowling in Bangladesh, a thing he never does even for his state team. "It was a challenge for me, opening the bowling. I had never done it for Karnataka," said the son of selection panel member and former Test all-rounder Roger Binny....