Uthappa backs Dravid to come out of form slump

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New Delhi, Jan 3 (UNI) Former skipper Rahul Dravid may not have set the stage on fire Down Under, but swashbucking batsman Robin Uthappa is confident that it will not be long before the veteran comes out of the lean patch.

Embattling poor form, India's most dependable batsman is under fire from all quarters. A poor run in a one-day series at home against Australia saw the Wall being dropped from the subsequent series against Pakistan.

Backing the 2004 Padma Shri awardee, Uthappa said, ''Rahul is one of the great player India has ever seen. It will not be long before he comes out of the slump in form.'' On India's chances in the grueling series in Australia, the 22-year-old Uthappa saod, ''They (Indian team) must have got used to the condition by now. It's allready showing the way Laxman and Dravid stick to the task. Laxman scored a 100 and Dravid also chiped in with a half century, so thinks are improving.'' India suffered a ignominious defeat in the first Test at Melbourne, thanks to a collapse of the famed Indian batting line-up.

In the second Test the visitor were reeling at 8 for one wicket before being rescued to some extent by a 175 run partnership between Dravid and Laxman. Dravid scored a grity 53 before being scalped by left-arm speedster Johnson, while Laxman scoered a masterly 109 before Hogg ended his innings.

When quized if he is missing the action down under, Uthappa promptly said, ''I do at times, but I am preparing myself to play in the ODI's and the Twenty20.'' When asked about his gameplan in the tri series featuring India, Australia and Sri Lanka, Uthappa said, ''I will look to play my natural game, which is a attacking one, and will like to keep things simple.

''I will try to win as many matches for the country and with time may be able to break into the Test squad. But that will depend upon the selectors.'' Uthappa was in the town for the launch of a special edition of Bolero SUV car by Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M). He was presented the first car by M&M.

Giving the keys to the hard hitting batsman, Vivek Nayar, vice president, Auto sector M&M, said Uthappa is a role model for the younger generation and one of Indian cricket's leading stars today.

He epitomizes the true spirit of i.e. to 'Take on Anything'.'' UNI TB RKM KN1601

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