Yusuf Can Be Really Devastating Down the Order: Uthappa

New Delhi, February 3 (PTI): Out-of-favour batsman Robin Uthappa reckons impact player Yusuf Pathan along with Sachin Tendulkar will be India's trump cards in the forthcoming World cricket Cup to be held in the sub-continent from February 19. 

The hard-hitting Karnataka opener, who has been out of reckoning since 2008, said Yusuf apart, Sachin Tendulkar's form over the next couple of months will also be crucial to India's fortunes.

"Yusuf Pathan is the biggest surprise package. He can do the talking with both bat and ball," Uthappa told PTI from Visakhapatnam where he is representing South Zone in the Duleep Trophy final.

The 25-year-old Karnataka player said that it would be a tough call between Suresh Raina and Pathan for the number seven spot.

"With Sachin back, it will be a tough call... If he gets a chance, Yusuf can be really devastating down the order," Uthappa, who was bought for a whopping USD 2.1 million (approx Rs 9.66 crore) by Indian Premier League franchise Sahara Pune Warriors, said.

A vital cog in India's wheel during the team's triumphant campaign in the inaugural edition of the ICC World Twenty20 in 2007, Uthappa said the entire country will be behind Tedulkar, who, in all likelihood, would be featuring in his last World Cup.

"No particular role should be assigned to him... Sachin Tendulkar should go there and be like Sachin Tendulkar. We must send all positive energies and give all the support needed. Hope he is able to express himself fully. It will do wonders to the side," he said.

Known for his clean hitting against fast bowlers, Uthappa said, "If all play to strength and potential we can definitely win it. We have the class and recent history in the sub-continent is phenomenal. We are definitely the best bet."

"Pressure definitely will be there. It's a World Cup afterall, the competition of highest standard. There is going to be pressure on players. Hype is pretty much normal. We must get used to this. I don't think hype will have any negative impact on the side," he said on the buzz surrounding the event being co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"We have a fantastic side, it's a pretty solid batting line-up and the team is shaping up really well. Virat Kohli is in super form and with Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order and Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the middle it's going to be a fantastic line-up," Uthappa said.

"Yusuf down the order is fantastic. We have a variety of spin option and Ravichandran Ashwin and Piyush Chawla will back Harbhajan Singh very well. The selectors should be given credit for picking this balanced line-up."

Uthappa refused to compare Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men with Kapli Dev's 1983 World Cup winning side.

"It's too soon to say it's the best ever Indian one-day side. Let them win the World Cup and only then it would be a fair enough comparison with the the class of 1983. Let's just hope and pray that this is the right mix to win us the World Cup," he said.

Uthappa felt South Africa, England, Australia and Sri Lanka will be India's biggest threat in the mega event.

"England are doing pretty well recently. South Africa too are a very good side. Then there are teams like Australia and Sri Lanka who utilise the conditions well. We have to take one match at a time. We have an excellent captain in Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He should do the way he has been doing so far."

The Karnataka player gave credit to coach Gary Kirsten for moulding the side into a fighting unit and helping it reach the pinnacle in Test rankings and the second spot in ODIs.

"I have not played under his coaching but I have always heard good things about him. He has moulded the team well," he said. 


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