Ruturaj Gaikwad had some fine mentors right from the time he picked up a cricket bat. From his childhood coaches at the Vengsarkar academy to supportive teammates, the 24-year-old batsman had the right people around him, guiding and telling him the correct things to fine-tune his performance.
For many youngsters, working with ‘mentor’ Rahul Dravid and a couple of IPL seasons under MS Dhoni’s captaincy remains only a dream, unlike Ruturaj Gaikwad who had the privilege of sharing the dressing room with two of the most celebrated cricketing minds. He wasn’t expecting an India call-up at 24 but the youngster has been showing that he is ready for the big leap.
Ruturaj Gaikwad Didn’t Expect Call-up In Indian Side Despite Consistent Performances In The Domestic Circuit
Two years after making his India A debut, CSK batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad has got his maiden India call-up. The Maharashtra batsman is one of the six uncapped players(Chetan Sakariya, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana, K Gowtham, and Varun Chakravarthy) who have been picked in the 20-man squad for the limited-overs series in the island nation in July.
Ruturaj Gaikwad scored plenty of runs in the domestic circuit and on A tours before that breakthrough IPL season in 2020. He scored 677 runs at an average of 112.83 in a productive summer with India A after beginning his stint without scoring in 2019. Runs in domestic List A cricket has been a constant for the Maharashtra batsman.
Ruturaj Gaikwad acknowledged the importance of grinding it through at the domestic level but he pinpoints out that the IPL experience is extremely valuable, considering the intensity and the quality of cricket on display.
“Obviously, the IPL gives a different perspective to be able to play such high-pressure games. In domestic cricket, you will get 1 or 2 bowlers against whom you can cash in but in IPL, the standard of bowling and batting is always high.
“You’ll always have 5 good bowling options, even the 6th one might be a good option. So you really need to have a good plan and good approach for tackling them. So playing there, it helps,” he said.
He recalled the conversations he had with MS Dhoni over the last few years while playing for Chennai Super Kings. He has known him from before his CSK days. His Ranji Trophy debut came against Jharkhand in 2016 wherein MS Dhoni was the mentor in the opposition camp. MS Dhoni, in fact, signed on his plaster after the youngster fractured his finger during the game.
Ruturaj Gaikwad Performed Well In IPL 2020 After Recovering From Covid-19 And IPL 2021
Ruturaj Gaikwad recovered from Covid-19 in the UAE before he made his IPL debut for CSK. After a shaky start to his CSK stint, the youngster turned it around with 3 successive fifties, showcasing he can be the next big thing for the franchise. He followed it up with some fine performances earlier this year before IPL 2021 was suspended in May.
Shedding light on a ‘simple and short’ advice from MS Dhoni that helped him reverse his fortunes last year, Ruturaj said: “He said ‘you have already been through a lot due to Covid-19. As a captain, I am not expecting too much from you.
“We have given you the opportunity not to show who you are at this point but to play for CSK, a great franchise, and enjoy your time’ because you’ll never know what will happen next.”
“‘Make sure you enjoy the opportunities. If you’re putting pressure on yourself, you are adding it to yourself. We, as management, aren’t expecting anything, we just want you to go out there and enjoy for now and gain experience. I think it helped me a lot, it helped me relax a little bit and made me feel calmer.”
Ruturaj Gaikwad said he did not have the opportunity to discuss his senior team call-up dreams with MS Dhoni but recalled a couple of times wherein the legendary former captain had told him to keep dreaming about donning the India shirt.
“Not really we discussed (India hopes) but one or two times he has mentioned that I have the potential and I have the capacity,” Ruturaj said.
“He said ‘you don’t have to think about one particular tournament or one particular season. You have to think of playing for India, you have ample time. You have to keep thinking about it and how you are going to reach there and how you can sustain there’.”
As expected, Ruturaj Gaikwad partnered with Faf du Plessis in the new IPL 2021 season but the opener got scores of 5, 5, and 10 as he struggled to get going before scoring 64, 33, 75, and 4 in the next 4 games. Ruturaj Gaikwad, who amassed 204 runs at 51 in IPL 2020, has amassed 196 runs in 7 games after scoring 20 runs in the first 3 matches.
He fared similarly in IPL 2020 held at UAE where he smashed a hat-trick of half-centuries in the last three games to amass 204 runs averaging 51 in 6 games after scoring just 5 runs in the first 3 outings.