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‘Robin’s high on confidence and in good space mentally’

- Exclusive
- Nice when ward remembers you in his moment of glory: Amre

Pravin Amre

Calcutta: Few remember that Robin Uthappa’s 86 on his India debut, eight years ago, remains the highest by one of our own in ODIs.

Perhaps, because Uthappa’s last ODI was ages ago (in July 2008). He did play a T20I two years ago, though.

Now, the 28-year-old Uthappa has become the flavour of the IPL and it’s worth going to Ladbrokes and placing a wager on the Orange Cap-holder’s India comeback.

On Thursday evening, after KKR’s Uthappa dedicated the Orange Cap to Pravin Amre, The Telegraph spoke to his Mumbai-based coach.

Amre had a short India career, but the soft-spoken 45-year-old is a centurion on Test debut — that, too, at pacy and bouncy Kingsmead on our first tour of South Africa, in 1992-93.

Excerpts...

Uthappa dedicating the Orange Cap to him (“thank you Sir”)...

It’s touching... It’s nice when your ward remembers you in his moment of glory. However, I’d like to emphasise that all credit to Robin, not to me or anybody else.

Robin Uthappa after reaching his half-century, at the Eden, on Thursday. A Telegraph picture

The change in the Uthappa of 2014...

Mental space and confidence matter the most. Robin’s high on confidence and in good space mentally.

Association with Uthappa...

It began in July 2012, after IPL V... I’d already worked with Robin as the batting coach of Pune Warriors India... While Robin was vacationing in Spain, he called and asked if I’d agree to be his personal coach. It didn’t take me long to say ‘yes’.

Uthappa’s line which convinced him...

(Laughs) Not one line in particular, but I liked Robin’s determination... There was a fierceness in his desire to improve as a batsman and claw back into the national team. Also, it was a challenge for me to be a personal coach, like they have in tennis. I can’t think of any other batsman in India, at the professional level, who has the services of a personal coach.

His style...

As a person I’m soft, but my practice sessions are hard. I push people to the limit, make them stretch every muscle. To succeed, you need to work very hard.

Difference a coach can make...

Definitely, a difference can be made, or else you won’t have us coaches. But, ultimately, it’s about execution and implementation. That’s never in a coach’s hands.

Being in different cities...

Well, I did have a precondition... I told Robin that I’m a family man and couldn’t keep travelling to Bangalore. Such is his dedication that he decided to park himself in Mumbai. Initially, Robin used to stay in a hotel, but he soon rented a flat in Khar. I’m a Shivaji Parkwallah.

Areas he made Uthappa work on...

Mental, technical and physical. To improve, you’ve got to work on all areas, never exclusively on one. Or, on two.

Uthappa as a pupil...

(Admiringly) Hungry for knowledge... If Robin has a doubt, he won’t rest till it has been cleared... His commitment has been admirable. Robin’s gone to the extent of spending Rs 3.5 lakh, before this season, only on training indoors. He’d smile and say ‘I’m investing in my career’.

Batting order...

Robin’s most suited to open and I’m glad that KKR moved him to an opener’s slot.

Last session with Uthappa...

Before this IPL... We’re in touch over the phone, of course.

India comeback...

It should be a matter of time, in ODIs and in T20Is... Robin had a fantastic season with Karnataka and, now, he’s the toast of KKR. I’m sure the selectors will look at his performances for his state and in the IPL.

His being appointed as Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy coach...

But I’ll continue working with Robin.

Lastly... If he’ll be ‘living’ his second innings in India colours through Uthappa...

Indeed... I didn’t have a long career, but Robin has age on his side and is a man in form. I see an emotional connect... I’m praying for his recall.