Cricketing memory, especially those of the selectors, can be very fickle. It was not long ago that Robin Uthappa was brought back into the Indian limited overs squad, and there was talk of how he had matured as a batsman, and thus had greater chances of succeeding in international cricket during his second coming. While that was not a long time ago, Uthappa's comeback talk already seems like a thing of the past. He did not have any role to play in England, and has been ignored for the home series against West Indies as well.
The snub would definitely have made Uthappa feel bad. He had an excellent run in the domestic season to go with the number of runs he scored for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL as well as the CLT20. What has been striking about Uthappa's performance over the last year has been that he has developed the ability to build the long innings. Earlier, he used to get starts, and many a times throw his wicket away to soft strokes. This definitely hasn't been the case in recent times, and has come to the notice of cricket experts in the country, which is why many are backing his recall.
The disappointing aspect about Uthappa's axe is that he can play a significant role in Indian cricket. Uthappa first came to prominence as a swashbuckling opener in one-day cricket, before fading away after a number of failures. India's poor showing in the 2011 World Cup did not help his cause. But, the fact is that he has the experience of opening the innings in one-day cricket, which is why he must be kept in the team. With the World Cup only a few months away, Uthappa could be readied as India's back-up opener. For that too happen though he must be picked for India's next series in Australia. Else it may be too late to take a call.
It is paramount for India to have a back up opener for two primary reasons. First, Shikhar Dhawan is no longer a certainty in the side in any of the formats. In fact, he has been dropped owing to his poor form more than once. Hence, if Dhawan fails in the Australia series prior to the World Cup, the team will be in a major soup. Secondly, the fitness of the other opener in the side, Rohit Sharma is also a major worry. In recent times, he has missed more games than he has played. Also, even when he is fit, Sharma doesn't always look in good form. In fact, he has played patchy innings a number of times in recent matches.
While preparing for a big tournament, it is important to make sure that you have back up men for your key players. And, the opening position is definitely a significant one. Of course, India have Ajinkya Rahane in the side, who has turned out to open before. But, he is a proper middle order bat, and pushing him to the top will be sacrificing in the middle order. It is not to say that having Uthappa in the side will be a masterstroke stroke. He might not be needed at all, or might fail. But, the issue here is that India need to show their World Cup preparedness.
--By A Cricket Analyst