'He went to England at 16, scored big hundreds': Vengsarkar wants selectors to pick India youngster 'straight away'
The IPL over the years has gifted Indian cricket some young and promising talents – look no further than Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah – and this year was no exception. As eight teams competed for the biggest prize in franchise T20 cricket, with Chennai Super Kings emerging as winners, IPL 2021 produced youngsters who could definitely prove to be India material in the time to come.
This year, we saw the likes of Kartik Tyagi and Arshdeep Singh bowl splendidly in the death overs, while the batting duo of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Venkatesh Iyer emerged as one of the positives for their respective franchises. More so Iyer, who did not play a single game during the India leg and turned the fortunes of KKR in the UAE, scoring 370 runs from 10 matches.
As for Gaikwad, former India batsman and chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar recalled his early memories of the 24-year-old, reminiscing how the batsman captivated his imagination at the tender age of 10 and was fast-tracked.
"He came to our Pune academy when he was 10. We choose players for our academy (based on ability), we just don’t get everybody. So, he was one of those young players we chose because he had excellent skills,” Vengsarkar told Khaleej Times.
"I also took him to England when he was around 16. I take my academy team to England every year to Lancashire. We play 10 matches every year. He scored hundreds in most of the games, and he scored big hundreds, the 160s, 170s."
Gaikwad played six games in IPL 2020, scoring over 200 runs but really came into his elements this season. When the IPL 2021 began, Gaikwad was an uncapped India player, but that changed between the end of the first half and the beginning of the second. Gaikwad never looked back, and ended the year with 635 runs, becoming the youngest player to win the Orange Cap. With what Gaikwad has to offer, Vengsarkar reckons the selectors need to not waste time and include him in the team at the earliest.
"He was scoring the half centuries, so I sent a message to him and asked him to play 20 overs. I said, 'you would score a hundred and the team would score 200 if you play 20 overs. And that's what he did against Rajasthan Royals. He played 20 overs and scored a brilliant hundred. Chennai lost the match because Rajasthan played very well that day," Vengsarkar said.
"He has the game and he is mentally strong. The selectors must give him an opportunity. When you pick a guy who is in form, it helps. He is also young. If the selectors are convinced about his talent and temperament, then he should be picked straight away."