Ruturaj Gaikwad followed up his unbeaten 220, including a record seven sixes in an over, during Monday’s quarterfinal versus Uttar Pradesh (UP) with an astounding knock of 168 against Assam in the Vijay Hazare Trophy semifinal on Wednesday.
Despite him pressing the accelerator on Wednesday sooner than he did two days earlier at the Narendra Modi Stadium B ground, the Maharashtra captain rated his double hundred higher than his 168, which came off just 126 balls.
“No disrespect to Assam bowlers but UP was a far better and all-round attack. And we had lost two early wickets and it was my first comeback game after the injury and our first knockout game, so there was much more pressure so I would rate the innings against UP higher,” Gaikwad told Sportstar after leading Maharashtra into its maiden Vijay Hazare Trophy final.
Having raced from 100 to 150 in just 32 balls and with eight overs remaining in the innings, Gaikwad was set to become the first batter to score successive double hundreds in limited overs cricket. However, he fell short after mistiming one off Riyan Parag and caught in the deep in the 45th over.
“I wasn’t disappointed at all. In fact, I was in such a zone that I didn’t even realise I had crossed 150 and didn’t even raise the bat, so missing out on a double hundred is not a big deal at all,” he said.
Gaikwad, who has lost his place in India’s ODI side, wanted to meet UP left-arm spinner Shiva Singh, whom he carted for seven sixes in an over, but couldn’t.
“He must have been understandably dejected but all I would like to remind him is to remember Stuart Broad went for six sixes in an over (in the 2007 World Twenty20) and has had an outstanding career, so there’s a lesson in it for every bowler,” Gaikwad said.
Gaikwad missed four league games owing to a wrist injury he suffered against Bengal.
“I was just 50 to 60 per cent fit, so I decided against risking myself. Once our qualification was almost assured, I wanted to get to full fitness to be back at my best and set an example for the teammates,” he said.
While Gaikwad celebrated with a largely young Maharashtra bunch for a long time on the outfield after the win, he was confident that his teammates were ready to face Saurashtra in the final and create history by continuing its unbeaten streak in the final.
“Yes, most of us will be playing at the big stadium for the first time, that too in a big final. The pitch will be very different from this, so there will be nerves but trust me, this bunch has shown the ability to soak in the pressure and succeed against all odds. We will be ready for the final,” he said.
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