A rejuvenated Robin Uthappa is relishing his new role as an opener alongside skipper Gautam Gambhir in the Kolkata Knight Riders team and feels "confidence and understanding" was the mantra behind the duo's success in the ongoing Indian Premier League-7.
Both Uthappa and Gambhir have been out of the Indian team for quite some time now and would be eyeing a berth in the national squad for the upcoming England tour riding on their performances in the ongoing IPL.
"The confidence is good for both of us. Gautam and I understand each other very well. We play to our plan and we complement each other well. We run very well in between the wickets. We egg each other on. We don't really think about pressure. We just think of going out there and doing our job," said Uthappa, who guided KKR to an eight-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings on Tuesday to take the team an inch closer to a play-off spot.
Uthappa struck 67 from 39 balls and shared 64 runs in just seven overs for the opening wicket with Gambhir to raise their third 50-plus partnership. The duo also have two century plus stands in the last five innings.
Talking about his new found consistency, the 28-year-old batsman from Bangalore said his focus this season was to play proper cricketing shots without taking any undue risks in the initial overs.
"If I can hold good shapes and get behind the line of the ball and just look to put into gaps, I will have great chances of putting the team on course for a good score. The important thing is to get the team to a good start in T20 format," he said.
Asked what he meant by "holding good shapes", Uthappa said: "In T20 cricket as you want to hit the ball really hard, you tend to grab your right hand a bit, you tend to square up a little bit. I want to make sure that I stay side on as much as possible and play a little late. That's the intent. If I can go out there and try doing that 10 times, I feel I can find the gaps at least seven times."
Stressing on the importance of making a winning start to KKR's campaign on home turf in this IPL, Uthappa said: "We came to Kolkata after a long time in the tournament. We didn't know what the par score would be here. We chased really well in our last game."
"We just felt it would be better to go after a score because that's something we have done really well in the tournament. It was very important to get off to a win here. We are coming here after a long time and we wanted to give the crowd a win. It was important to get off to a good start here."
Uthappa said KKR's strategy on Tuesday was to play out Chennai Super Kings' strike bowlers without taking any undue risks.
"CSK have a very formidable bowling attack. If you give them an inch, they will take a mile. We wanted to make sure that we didn't take any risk. We just wanted to consolidate in the middle and take it from there. We wanted to play down their main bowlers, build on a partnership and take it from there. We have enough faith in our ability in the last four-five overs to chase down a score," he said.
Uthappa also hailed pacer Pat Cummins, who bowled explosive CSK opener Dwayne Smith out with his second ball of an IPL debut.
"I think Pat had a great first game. Everyone understands that we are a very flexible team. He bowled a peach of a delivery to get rid of Smith and gave us the momentum," he said.
Uthappa feels the more he is keeping wickets the better he is becoming as a batsman.
"I get better as I keep more. It helps in my hand-eye co-ordination with my batting as well. I'm glad I'm keeping very well. The important thing is that I'm reading Sunil (Narine) very well. I'm happy about it," he concluded.