Robin Uthappa drew the curtains down on his career in Indian cricket on Wednesday, September 14. The swashbuckling right-handed wicketkeeper-batter debuted in international cricket in 2006 and represented India in 46 ODIs and 13 T20Is.
While he had a stop-start international career, he was always a hot property in the Indian Premier League (IPL). The Karnataka-based batter turned out for six franchises – Mumbai Indians (MI), Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), Pune Warriors India, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Rajasthan Royals (RR), and Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
His career hit a crescendo in IPL 2014, when he posted 11 consecutive scores in excess of 40 and finished with the Orange Cap, racking up 660 runs that season. His exploits were instrumental in KKR lifting its second IPL crown and he forced his way back into the Indian setup too shortly after.
His last appearance in the league came for CSK against the Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium, the very venue where he made his IPL debut. With 4952 runs from 205 games at 27.51 and a strike rate of 130.35, he has been one of the marquee players in the tournament since its inception.
As he finishes a fine career across formats and ends as the ninth-highest run-getter in the IPL, let us look back at his five best knocks in the marquee T20 league.
#5 80* off 58, KKR vs CSK, 2015
The Kolkata Knight Riders were keen to seek parity after an agonizing two-run loss at the hands of the Chennai Super Kings when the two teams locked horns once again a couple of days later. KKR bowlers staved off an aggressive start by the Super Kings and restricted them to 165.
In response, the game was evenly poised at 57/3, with Gautam Gambhir, Manish Pandey and Suryakumar Yadav failing to make an impact. The well-set Uthappa, who opened the innings, was joined by Andre Russell and went about a fine counter-attack.
Uthappa struck a pristine unbeaten 80 to put the Knight Riders in pole position. The game stretched into the final over but the hosts made it home comfortably in the end. While Russell was the more belligerent of the two, the opener anchored a tricky chase with minimal fuss and put in one of his best performances in the IPL.
#4 87 off 47, KKR vs RPS, 2017
With Sunil Narine used as a pinch-hitter at the top of the order, Uthappa was forced to move down the order in IPL 2017. That didn’t deter his form or performances one bit, as his knock against the Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) proved.
RPS racked up 182/5 at the MCA Stadium in Pune before Narine’s run out brought Uthappa to the crease. He forged a stunning 158-run partnership with captain Gambhir to shut the hosts out of the contest for good.
The Supergiant attack had no clue against the swashbuckling right-hander, who blazed away to 87 off 47 balls in a knock embellished with seven fours and six maximums. KKR eventually romped home with 11 deliveries to spare.
#3 51 off 21, RCB vs KXIP, 2010
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) played their first home fixture of IPL 2010 against Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings), on the back of a loss to KKR. Even on a track as flat as the one at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, chasing 204 was never going to be easy.
Manish Pandey and Jacques Kallis got RCB off to a flyer with a 74-run opening stand. But it was box office action once Uthappa strode to the middle at No. 3. He batted like a man possessed, as he ripped the Kings bowling unit to shreds with a 21-ball 51.
Blasting one of the fastest fifties in the league, he struck four boundaries and as many sixes in his innings, killing the contest for good. Kallis took over post his dismissal and saw RCB home, but the game is vividly remembered for Uthappa’s pyrotechnics.
#2 68* off 38, RCB vs CSK, 2010
Uthappa continued his red-hot form when CSK arrived in Bengaluru. RCB were tied down by the Super Kings bowlers with their No. 3 batter running out of partners. It was all but the calm before the storm, though, as he flicked a switch post the 16th over.
Batting on 19 off 23 deliveries, Uthappa switched gears and charged along in the slog-overs. He struck 49 off the next 15 deliveries he faced and took a particular liking to Lakshmipathy Balaji, whom he walloped for a hat-trick of sixes.
From 110/4 in 16 overs, RCB posted 171/5 – a total that proved comfortably beyond CSK’s reach as the hosts’ bowlers took over thereafter. Unsurprisingly, the local lad was named Player of the Match for his game-changing innings.
#1 88 off 50, CSK vs RCB, 2022
More than a decade after powering RCB to victory over their southern rivals, Uthappa returned the favor while donning the yellow of CSK. Having already played a pivotal role in the Super Kings’ title triumph in 2021, he was signed up again the following year.
CSK were struggling at 36/2 when Uthappa was joined by Shivam Dube. The left-right combination went about rebuilding the innings with the latter playing the aggressor initially. Uthappa joined the party soon after and clubbed three sixes off Glenn Maxwell and thereafter, there was no looking back.
It was a marauding six-fest at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai as RCB’s challenge was dispatched without a fuss. The last 10 overs produced 156 runs as Uthappa notched up his highest IPL score. His 50-ball 88 included nine hits over the fence and along with Dube’s unbeaten 95, paved the way for CSK’s first win of the season.