IPL 2021 – CSK’s Ruturaj Gaikwad was one of the most exciting youngsters of the previous season. He had quite a rollercoaster IPL journey. The 24-year-old Pune born had a tough introduction to the high-intensity uproar of the League in the UAE. First testing COVID-19 positive, then getting dismissed for 0, 5 and 5 before he stamped his class with three-in-a-row half-centuries as CSK’s presence in the 13th tournament came to a premature close. Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni was one of many who helped the young leg to adapt to the demanding nature of the league and got the best out of him.
Ruturaj during a conversation with InsideSport said the former Indian skipper played his part in calming and encouraging him. “When I got out without scoring against MI and when I had a bad day with two misfields and a dropped catch, he (Dhoni) came up to me and advised to enjoy the game and play for the jersey. He told me to have a good time in the middle.”
Besides Dhoni, CSK coach Stephen Fleming and Michael Hussey also helped Ruturaj in transitioning from first-class cricket to highest level of cricket.
He believes, deep conversation with Hussey helped him a lot. Ruturaj said: “He (Hussey) came up to me before the last three games and counselled not to take any pressure and bat the way I do for Maharashtra. Right through the tournament and before the start of the tournament, we used to have deep conversations while watching a match on TV or on the ground. It was about how one can deal with particular situations. He used to share his experience and I would talk about how I would approach a particular situation. Then Hussey would come up with suggestions for me to apply in my approach and batting.”
Ruturaj Gaikwad on IPL 2020: ‘I was not used to batting in the middle-order’
The young Maharashtra right-handed batsman scored 65 not out against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), 72 against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), and 65 not out against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) to become the first uncapped player to score three consecutive fifties.
Does he rue having missed opportunities in the absence of Suresh Raina, who returned home before the start of the League, and Ambati Rayudu, who was injured, and does he regret dancing down the pitch to the Rajasthan Royals leg-spinner Rahul Tewatia in the first ball he faced in the League?
Ruturaj replied that he did not regret at all stepping out to the first ball he faced and the outcome of it (stumped by Sanju Samson). “Even now I don’t. I saw the dismissal two or three times. I was not used to batting in the middle-order. And whenever I had batted in the middle-order for my club, and when the run rate required was ten-plus an over, I showed signs of aggression. It may be like stepping out to a spinner or walking down the pitch to a fast bowler. It was just a habit when I used to go in that situation. I was disappointed getting out in the first ball. I knew I had made a mistake.”
Ruturaj has been in the senior national committee’s radar after his heavy scoring across all formats of the game. Each one of the selection committee members chaired by MSK Prasad travelled to the cities where a select group of batsmen and bowlers played and one among this select few was Ruturaj. So far, he has amassed 1,349 runs in 21 first-class matches, 2,499 in 54 limited-over (50) matches and 1,141 in 39 Twenty20 matches.
He will be one of the key players in this IPL edition for CSK.
CSK 2021 squad: MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, N Jagadeesan, Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, Josh Hazlewood, R Sai Kishore