Robin Uthappa is extremely delighted at the prospect of playing with MS Dhoni and called Dhoni's commitment and desire within the group a phenomenal quality. Uthappa further blasted Kolkata Knight Riders' communication gap in handling his position and his subsequent release from the squad.
Robin Uthappa joined Chennai Super Kings on a trade deal on the back of a superb Syed Mushtaq Ali season and he backed that with a domineering Vijay Hazare Trophy, where his attacking game became the talk of the town. CSK might do with that quality after having endured slow starts to their campaign in almost all the games last season but for Uthappa, this stint matters a lot as well.
Having gone through some torrid run of form in the last few seasons of IPL, he will be reuniting with MS Dhoni, with whom he shares many laughs and memories, not least the smile of rattling the stumps in the India-Pakistan bowl-out game.
"Dhoni has a girl, and I have a boy; raising girls and boys is entirely different! But, yeah, it's been a while, and there was always a desire for me to play with him before he retires. I'm really happy that is coming to fulfillment. Our relationship is such that when we are not in touch, we aren't. But when we do get back in touch, we kind of pick up from where we left off - the affection and the closeness are always there. Our wives are very close friends now. So there is a care and concern that goes beyond cricket. Just to be able to play cricket with someone that you share emotions for outside of the sport is phenomenal. So you know that when you are playing, you are going to put everything on the line for that person," Uthappa told ESPN Cricinfo.
"And just for the leader that MS has been, yaar. For the knowledge that he has, the commitment, and the desire that he inspires within a group is phenomenal. And you have just seen him grow and grow, get better like fine wine.
"He, in fact, called me. He said, "I want you to know that I didn't make the decision about you coming in here. It was actually the decision of the leadership group, which involved the coaches and the CEO." He also said - and that's what I love about him - "I didn't want anyone to think that I was the one picking you. I wanted you to get into the team with your own ability and with your own skill. And when it came to me, I said, please ask everybody else in making the decision about you. Because anyone might feel 'because MS is there, Robin got here'."
"It is amazing, right, when there is that level of honesty. I truly appreciate that. For me, I know that I have gotten there by my own skill, by my own credibility. That is what I love about MS. You want to play for a leader like that, who gives you that confidence that, 'Hey, you have come in here by your own credibility. I've done nothing.'
Even though he was a core member of the Kolkata Knight Riders set-up when Gautam Gambhir was the captain, that changed drastically with Dinesh Karthik taking over the leadership. Uthappa was subsequently released ahead of the 2020 auction with Rajasthan Royals scooping him for a year before CSK got him in a trade deal. Uthappa spoke of the course of events that led to his axe from KKR and stated that there was a huge communication gap between himself and the franchise.
"That was more about moving on from the brand of cricket that we played when Gautam [Gambhir] was captain. One of the reasons I was moved down to No. 3 was because they wanted to get off to explosive starts, which was the communication that was given to me. And then when Shubman Gill came into the fray, in 2019, he was batting at No. 7. They wanted to ease him in so to speak. But somewhere down the line in that tournament, there was a big communication gap. And suddenly, the night before a game, they told me I am batting at No. 4. That changes the whole scenario a little bit, because batting in the top three and batting from four down are very different mindsets," the former Karnataka player, who now plays for Kerala, added.
"And then that game against CSK, I got out to the first ball. I saw a ball that I felt was there to be hit and I tried to hit it and got out, and I immediately got dropped from the team. Again, no communication as to why I was dropped. And then things kind of went south.
"Automatically Shubman came in at No. 3, did well, and now he has progressed to opening the batting. Once the 2019 season got over, when Baz [Brendon McCullum, the Knight Riders' head coach] took over the side, the communication was that they were going to keep me. And I think a day before the  auction, I got a call from Baz saying that they are going release me because they were moving in a different direction."