Kaushik Gandhi cements his place in TN squad

Kaushik Gandhi has made the most of his chances this season - he's Tamil Nadu's highest run-getter with 709 runs at an average of 70.90 - to finally establish himself as the mainstay of the Tamil Nadu team.

Kaushik Gandhi has shown impressive form this season, scoring his maiden first-class hundred and also a double ton this season.   -  PTI

The promise of an emerging batsman holds if there are signs of realisation; fades if not. The sign can be an innings of rush, or of vigil that entails immense impact; or a string of them in a long haul.

For Kaushik Gandhi, the ongoing season of the Ranji trophy is just that - he's Tamil Nadu's highest run-getter with 709 runs at an average of 70.90.

What's more, he has scored his maiden first-class hundred, one-fifty, and double hundred this season. A career-high 157 versus Madhya Pradesh at Cuttack, was bettered with a 164 versus Punjab at Nagpur, which in turn was outdone with a 202 versus Gujarat here on Saturday.

For a batsman who had been named in the State squad for the 2009-10 Ranji season, and who made his debut in 2011, he had played only six matches till this season. And had only 205 runs to show for it. Given a series of chances this season, he grew secure, and thus the positive outcome.

"Earlier, there were bigger and better players in the team, and it was not easy to get to play games at a stretch. Whatever chances I got, I couldn't better utilise them. Even this year, I didn't do much in the first three games. But the team backed me and I'm thankful for it. Only after I hit the first hundred that I completely stopped worrying about my chances," he says.

It helped that his role in the team was well-defined. "My role in this team is to play anchor. Because, there are a lot of stroke-makers in the team, and I'm known for playing long innings in the State league.

"I concern myself with the number of balls I play. Of course, it's difficult to play, say, 500 balls every innings. But my job is to spend as much time as I can. If I get a good start, I tend to build on it, and it helps the team. So, I'm never at any point worried about my score."

So, did he work on anything specific for this season?

"Since we were to play at neutral venues, I knew that we will have to bat on green tops. So, I just worked on my defence, and on the basic techniques of playing fast bowling; leaving the ball outside off-stump, for instance."

It sure must've come in handy when Bumrah, in the match here, dared him with a spate of short balls after he had pulled one for four. He smiles. "Here, in this wicket, I tried to score of them since it wasn't risky. The wicket didn't have much in it for the bowlers, and so the chances of me getting out were slim. Had it been a quicker wicket, and for a bowler of Bumrah's pace, I would've tried to leave a lot of balls, and be more defensive."