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IPL in the UAE: Robin Uthappa of Kolkata Knight Riders the new hero for Kerala expatriates

Sharjah: Kolkata Knight Riders star Robin Uthappa has been finding a lot of support among the Malayalees — and with good reason.

The wicketkeeper-batsman’s mother Roselyn hails from Kozhikode in Kerala and he speaks the language fluently.

“After we lost the Kochi Tuskers team in the IPL, we needed someone to cheer for and I found Uthappa,” said Manoj Pillai, who works for a catering company in Dubai.

Uthappa, also runs the Bat and Ball Inn at Bengaluru in partnership with former Kerala all-rounder J K Mahendra, where an array of cricketing memorabilia is also displayed. He is the son of international hockey referee Venu Uthappa and apart from Malaaylee, Uthappa also speaks Hindi, Kannada, Kodava and even Tamil.

After his 41-ball 55 on Saturday night, Uthappa said: “I am glad that I have been able to continue my good form from the domestic season which has really helped.

“I am happy I can contribute to the team in a meaningful way. It was good to be in touch and be able to stitch a partnership with Manish Pandey and Shakib Al Hasan to get the team to a good total.”

Uthappa and Pandey play for Karnataka and have been involved in many partnerships in domestic cricket. When Pandey was asked about Uthappa, he said: “Robin and I have been playing in the same team for seven years now. Obviously when me, Vinay Kumar and Robin play for the same team, it helps a lot being the three senior players for Karnataka and then we try to get the culture here.”

Uthappa complemented Pandey while revealing how they built the innings. “It was important for me to hold one end up while Manish was going great guns,” he said. “He was batting in a flow, so it was important that I complemented him. We have batted with each other in the past and understand each other well. It was a conscious effort to make sure that I held one end up for the team.”

When asked about his mastery over the reverse sweep, Uthappa said: “I have always played it. I have just kept the options open. When the opportunity arises and when I see a gap, then I play it. I only play it if I believe it is going to be useful at that point of time.”