Robin Uthappa journey: Battling epilepsy, the Caribbean disappointment and T20 World Cup glory

Unnikrishnan G

Bengaluru, June 17: Robin Uthappa often comes in as a radiant person. The personality has had an effect on his batting too - never the one to curb his instincts. But behind that, there were tough phases that Uthappa had to hurdled over to grow as a cricketer.

The India batsman said he had to battle epilepsy. "As a kid, one of the things that probably stunted my growth a little bit was the fact that I went through epilepsy. I had to take medication for that which alters with your hormones quite a bit. Between the age of 11 and 13.5, I was taking these steroids which were playing a little bit of havoc with my hormones and my system. I was anyway a strong guy, but then the fact that I put on weight even made people question the legality of my age," said Uthappa in 'Homerun with AV', a chat show with sports commentator Arun Venugopal on his YouTube channel Gethist Creative.

"I suddenly seemed bigger but not a lot of people knew I was going through epilepsy and was taking medication for it. For me, it was like a monkey on my back that I needed to get rid of after a point of time. It was getting to me emotionally because it also kind of stunted my height a little bit. I have kind of reached a place where I have settled down into a sweet spot. I don't allow myself to let go completely, but at the same time I pay attention to my recovery and make sure I am healthy and disciplined with the way I eat even when I am not playing the sport," said Uthappa.

Uthappa's India career saw a steep fall and sparkling space in short interval. The Bengalurean was part of the Indian side that was knocked out of the ICC World Cup 2007 in the first round itself. In the tournament held in the West Indies for the first time, India were defeated by Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as they exited the mega event.

After the World Cup in the West Indies, I honestly never thought I would play for India again. It was again a very precarious time in Indian cricket. When a team of that calibre fails in that competition that everyone has been waiting to play in... and they tagged us as favourites given the fact that in 2003 we had gone to the finals and missed out. When we lost in the first round, common sense... who would you cut? The youngest guy in the block. You just say now let's get back to winning ways. But the selectors at that point reposed faith in me and continued to keep me in the side," he said.

But that bright time was not far behind as Uthappa became a part of a World Cup winning squad soon as MS Dhoni's band grabbed the ICC World T20 in South Africa. Uthappa fondly recalled the train of events.

"Once we got to South Africa, we got to a place where we knew we were a very young side and we didn't have the stalwarts of Indian cricket. We didn't have Zak pa, I think Munaf wasn't there, Dravid, Sachin, and Dada. We took one game at a time and made sure we played it to the best of our ability. Once we did that and we started playing well, the confidence started growing. By the time we got to the quarterfinals, we just knew that if we play this quarterfinal well... and once we won the quarterfinal we felt we had a very good chance. We said we were just two games away, so we stick to doing what we were doing.

"The fact that Yuvi was in fine form, Rohit played the way he played, DK fielded the way he fielded. Even though DK wasn't playing in a game, he took a one-handed blinder of Graeme Smith off RP Singh. Gauti played so well for the most part of the tournament. The bowl-out was a big part of bringing momentum into the side. For those three weeks, honest to God, there wasn't a single thing that wasn't even felt negatively, forget being said negatively. So, I think we just built on that and really enjoyed each other's company. We didn't understand the enormity of our achievement till we came back to India," he added.

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