Chennai Super Kings (CSK) opener Ruturaj Gaikwad played a scintillating knock against Rajasthan Royals (RR) in Abu Dhabi, smashing an unbeaten 101 off 60 balls in an IPL 2021 encounter. The level of Gaikwad’s domination in the innings, in which he hit nine fours and five sixes, can be gauged from the fact that he scored more than half the runs in a team score of 189 for 4.
Although CSK went on to lose the match despite Gaikwad’s brilliance, the Chennai opener won plenty of plaudits for his sublime knock. Former India cricketer Virender Sehwag went to the extent of proclaiming that it is only a matter of time before he dominates world cricket. So what is it that makes Gaikwad a special player? We try to analyse.
He has tremendous self-belief
This is one attribute that has been evident in Gaikwad’s game in his short IPL career. In both seasons, he has undergone rough patches but has come out with flying colours. Before the start of IPL 2020, he was known as one player who had tested positive for COVID-19. However, by the end of the tournament, every IPL fan knew that Gaikwad has some talent.
He played a few matches initially, failed and was dropped from the playing XI. However, he came back stronger and gave CSK something to cheer about at the end of a horror season. An IPL campaign, which began with three low scores, ended with three elegant fifties, all in match-winning causes. Only a player with immense self-belief and fighting ability can make such a tremendous comeback after going through such torrid times.
The story has been something similar for Gaikwad in IPL 2021. Again, in the first few matches, he failed and questions were asked about his position in the playing XI. But he made a comeback with gusto and has silenced all critics. The hundred against RR was a culmination of a great period of hard work and some amazing form that he had run himself into. He looked invincible out in the middle and winning captain Sanju Samson paid him a great tribute when he said that they are afraid of players like him. That one statement showed the level of domination Gaikwad had out in the middle.
Some serious batting talent
Of course, self-belief and hard work can take you to a point but you also need a certain ingredient call talent to succeed. And, Gaikwad has plenty of that as well. Rohit Sharma may not like this but Gaikwad seems to have a bit more time than the others to play his stroke. He is a bit in the KL Rahul mould, who score quickly even without slogging in the T20 format. That is a rare and precious quality to have in modern-day cricket.
Those who have seen him bat in the IPL will be pleased with the manner in which he has looked at ease against both pacers and spinners. Gaikwad is a wonderful lofter of the cricket ball. Against pacers, he ensures to go with the flow and you will often see him hold his pose as if to make a statement of domination. When he charges down the track to spinners, he is such a good reader of the slow bowling, he rarely fails to get to the pitch of the deliveries. In short, he is a very good all-round player, which is why he has been able to score runs consistently.
A long way to go
Although it can be said without doubt that Gaikwad has all the basics in place to succeed in international cricket, at least in white-ball cricket, it is too early to conclude that he will be a success. As the tour of Sri Lanka demonstrated to India’s younger generation, international cricket is a totally different ball game. Gaikwad will need to keep upgrading his skills and gain greater experience, both in IPL and domestic cricket, before he can make the transition to international cricket. And, when the time comes, he should be ready.