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Friday, Aug 16, 2019

Puneri prodigy Ruturaj Gaikwad straight drives an India call up

Gaikwad is below the selectors’ radar , despite multiple 100s for India ‘A’

pune Updated: Aug 01, 2019 14:51 IST
Jigar Hindocha
Jigar Hindocha
Hindustan Times, Pune
Ruturaj Gaikwad
Ruturaj Gaikwad(HT PHOTO)
         

Ruturaj Gaikwad is all about finding the gaps to reach the boundary. It is at the heart of his cricketing game and points to hand-eye coordination and footwork that is just typical for an opener, which is where the Punekar plays.

The one gap that this Pune cricketing prodigy, ie by Pune standards, has been unable to find, is the one that puts him through to the Indian team.

The India A tour of West Indies is the latest in what is an impressive display of skill by Gaikwad - two player of the match trophies, aiding the team in winning the series 4-1.

“The conditions in the West Indies are very different. Wicket has more bounce, spongy bounce. The outfield is slow,” says Gaikwad, reaching out to HT via WhatsApp.

“After getting out cheaply in the first ODI, I discussed what should be the plan to bat on these types of wickets. I then decided to grind out the innings and not to try to create shots. Patience is the key here,” says Gaikwad, whose top score was 99 which came in the final ODI. He also scored 85 in second ODI, which India won by 65 runs.

“I got very, very, very, upset. I think it was not just about the 99, but I had come close in the second match and got out on 85, so the frustration was there and wanted to get to a hundred badly. I think I got carried away and tried to do it in a hurry. It is a bit disappointing because it would have been my first overseas 100 and that too in the West Indies, but yes, learned from it,” Gaikwad feels.

Before Gaikwad left for the Carribean, he sat down with HT to allow us to delve into his psyche as a prospective India opener. 

In June, India A played host to the Sri Lanka A team and Gaikwad, who hit 51 boundaries in comparison to 10 sixes in four ODIs against the Lankans, over six matches, is not the “big hitter” variety of batsman to watch.

“I love to hit boundaries. I am gap-oriented player. I do not have the power to hit big shots,” says the attacking opening batsman.The highlight of Gaikwad’s Lanka experience was an unbeaten knock of 187 in 136 balls, followed by an unbeaten 125 in 94 balls in the first two matches.

He was rested in the third match and then returned with the scores of 84 (59b) and 74 (73b) in the fourth and sixth ODIs respectively; the fourth and fifth game were abandon due to rain.

“Before turning up for India A, I played the Mandke trophy were I scored four centuries in four matches. Our team had many players missing, so I knew the team was dependent on me and I had to play a big innings. That mindset helped me a lot while playing against Sri Lanka A,” recounts Gaikwad.

From representing the India under-23 team in the 2018 ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup, to playing for India A, it has been a learning curve for Gaikwad who trains at the Vengsarkar Cricket Academy, Thergaon.

“Playing the Asia Cup was my first international tour. It was in Sri Lanka and I saw big grounds, big boundaries and I soon realised it is completely different exposure playing for the India team. Even when I was part of India A team against England Lions in January-February, I was the part of a team which had members who represented India in the past, so it was all about observing and learning,” adds Gaikwad, who was is part of the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League 2019.

His India A exploits notwithstanding, Gaikwad is looking forward to the 2019-20 domestic season, which will start with Duleep Trophy in August.

“Next is Duleep trophy (multi-day), so the red-ball game. I am looking forward to dominate there as well and then the Vijay Hazare trophy (ODI) after a month,” says Gaikwad, who made his debut for Maharashtra in 2016-17 season.

“In my debut season I played under the captainship of Kedar Jadhav and with him I had many good partnerships in the middle so it helped me a lot. He (Jadhav) always kept explaining about the match situation and what to play when; so things became easy for me,” says Gaikwad.

“Playing a four-day game has its own set of challenges – you need to be mentally prepared as you will be playing different pitches; so adjusting is key,” adds Gaikwad, whose favourite format is the 50-over game.

“When it comes to white ball cricket I prefer ODI format over T20 format as it suits my batting style,” Gaikwad adds.

Quote:Ruturaj Gaikwad

“I do not set goals I just believe in going and performing on a given day. Aim is to win match for my team.

Quotes of former Test players

Dilip Vengsarkar

The best part of Ruturaj Gaikwad batting is consistency. He should had been picked for current ODI squad which is touring West Indies.

White-ball? ODI format; red ball? Runs, runs, runs...

Ruturaj Gaikwad is part of the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League 2019 and by all indications is on his way to cricket stardom, however, none of this gets in his focus.

“Before turning up for India A, I played the Mandke trophy were I scored four centuries in four matches. Our team had many players missing, so I knew the team was dependent on me and I had to play a big innings. That mindset helped me a lot while playing against Sri Lanka A,” recounts Gaikwad, explaining the importance of local cricket.

His India A exploits notwithstanding, Gaikwad is looking forward to the 2019-20 domestic season, which will start with Duleep Trophy in August.

Ruturaj in action during the Mandke Trophy earlier this year.
Ruturaj in action during the Mandke Trophy earlier this year. ( HT PHOTO )

“Next is Duleep trophy (multiday), so the red-ball game. I am looking forward to dominate there as well and then the Vijay Hazare trophy (ODI) after a month,” says Gaikwad, who made his debut for Maharashtra in 2016-17 season.

“In my debut season I played under the captainship of Kedar Jadhav and with him I had many good partnerships in the middle so it helped me a lot. He (Jadhav) always kept explaining about the match situation and what to play when; so things became easy for me,” says Gaikwad.

“Playing a four-day game has its own set of challenges – you need to be mentally prepared as you will be playing different pitches; so adjusting is key,” adds Gaikwad, whose favourite format is the 50-over game.

“When it comes to white ball cricket I prefer ODI format over T20 format ,as it suits my batting style,” Gaikwad adds.

Gaikwad, a former student of St Joseph’s. The 22-year-old today is very much a homebody, happy to relax at his residence at Old Sangvi, where he resides with his parents.

If he can keep his form steady, there is little doubt his time is just round the corner.

First Published: Jul 31, 2019 15:06 IST

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