Chennai Super Kings helped me grow, says Ruturaj Gaikwad

Playing for India-A in the ongoing series against Sri Lanka-A, Ruturaj Gaikwad scored an unbeaten 187, 125 and 84 in three matches.

Ruturaj Gaikwad

Even as Ruturaj Gaikwad says he hasn’t idolised anybody, Virat Kohli has been an inspiration for him.   -  N. Sudarshan

When at the crease, Ruturaj Gaikwad is unhurried in his batting. Manic T20 style hitting is not his thing. “I am not used to hitting many sixers,” says the 22-year-old Maharashtra batsman. “I don’t have that much of power also. I play the gaps.. look for singles, doubles and boundaries. I want to bat for long periods and remain not out in every innings.”

In the ongoing series against Sri Lanka-A, he has lived by these words. Following two big centuries in the first two games (187 n.o. and 125 n.o.), he made another 84 on Thursday, almost carrying his bat in a match that was ultimately called off because of rain and will be replayed on Friday."

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However, a year ago things weren't this rosy. Gaikwad first made his name in the Vijay Hazare one-day tournament in 2016-17, when he finished the third highest run-getter (444 runs from seven matches). But he couldn’t match the performance in the subsequent two seasons. "I wasn't able to convert 30s into 50s and 70s into 100s," he says.

He did feature for India-A in the Emerging Teams Asia Cup and against the visiting England Lions and performed well. But, ironically he credits the IPL stint with Chennai Super Kings this season for helping him grow. CSK can be a tough team to get into and expectedly he didn’t play a single game. But learning from the sidelines was great he says.

“I don’t think I had done much in the domestic scene to earn to place in the eleven. But the learning was important. CSK is one of the most experienced teams. Even practise sessions used to be like proper matches and I worked on the mental aspects with coaches like Mike Hussey.”

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“I learnt that T20 is not just about hitting big shots. It is about maintaining a good strike rate of 130 or 140. How you do it, is up to you. If you hit a six and play four dots, it's not of much use. Instead you hit a boundary and take a double. These things have helped and now I am able to play the long innings."

Even as he says he hasn’t idolised anybody, Virat Kohli has been an inspiration. “Even after a century in the previous innings, he will come with the same determination. I want to be that consistent. There is hunger to perform in each match and each innings. Other than that I have no other goals.”