New Delhi:He may have commanded the second highest price at the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) players' auction, but for India discard Robin Uthappa playing for the country is of foremost importance.
"It feels pretty good and satisfying. There are people who think that I am worth that much. Eventually my passion is to play for the country first.
"India cap is lot dearer to me than playing in the IPL. Playing for the country is more important. Players should strive hard to represent their country first than go for the IPL event. When they play for their country, their worth becomes that much that they can command good money," Uthappa who was here for a promotional event told the mediapersons.
Whether he was expecting such a high bid from the franchises after having a base price of Rs 92 lakh, Uthappa said "not that much".
"Not necessarily that much. To be honest don't know how to react. But I was sure to come somewhere close to that amount.
"The fact that I belong to Pune Warriors makes me responsible towards them. I will play to the best of my ability for my new team," said Uthappa.
Uthappa emerged as the biggest surprise package during the IPL auction, with the Pune and Kochi franchises involved in an intense bidding war to rope in the Bangalore lad before Pune warriors had the last laugh buying him for a whopping Rs 9.66 crore.
The burly Karnataka dasher whose natural flair and flamboyance always marked him out as a batsman has been out of favour for more than two years having last played for the country against Sri Lanka at Karachi in July, 2008 during the Asia Cup tournament. But he is still focussed in winning his place back in the national side.
"I hope to do well in the IPL and also hope that the selectors take a note of my performance. I have always tried to perform to the best of my abilities whenever I have got an opportunity to play for the country. But it's up to the selectors whether I fit in their scheme of things or not,"said the dashing middle-order batsman.
Uthappa was part of the Sachin Tendulkar-led Mumbai Indians for the first season of the IPL and played for Vijay Mallya-owned Royal Challengers Bangalore in the next two seasons.
So when asked about missing the RCB team, the right-hand batsman said, "I am ok with the swapping. New team and new thinking that's all. Naturally, there was a bonding (with the RCB) but that's ok."
Uthappa tipped India as one of the favourites to win the World Cup at home.
"We are one of the favourites. Indian side is well prepared under skipper Dhoni. We are one of the favourites. For other teams, I'll say teams in the sub-continent will definitely have the advantage," he said.
At the age of 22, he was a part of India Twenty20 World Cup winning team in South Africa, and his ability to walk down the pitch and hit big sixes set the stands on fire.
So, was it a conscious effort?
"It was as it works. It depends on the situation and how much you have practiced.
"People are becoming lot more open minded about the shots. As a batsman, you are experimenting more with the sweep shot, the paddle sweep, you walk down and play those shots.
"It's all innovation and it is only going to go forward," he quipped.