After an impressive stint in IPL 2021, the youngster and future star of India, Ruturaj Gaikwad has left the cricketing world to take his notice yet again. For all the good reasons, he has hit the headlines. Continuing his purple patch, he has amassed 603 runs in 5 matches crossing the 3 digit mark 4 times in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy. He ended up joining the elite group of Virat Kohli, Prithvi Shaw and Devdutt Paddikal to score 4 centuries in a single domestic 50-over tournament.
Earlier this year, the orange cap holder scored 635 runs in the IPL and was one of the primary reasons for the Chennai Super Kings to win the tournament. Everyone noticed the "spark" he had within. In the Vijay Hazare Trophy, he was appointed as the skipper of Maharashtra. And leading from the front he scored 136, 154, 124, 21 and 168. These knocks have not just helped his team Maharashtra win the game, but have also made the national selectors consider his name for the South Africa series, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him in the playing eleven in the ODIs.
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This is not the first time his performance make the fans feel so. In his stint for India A, in a series of 5 matches, he had a staggering average of 99. Although it was difficult to find a place in the team because already many other proven players were warming the bench. Selectors could not select him for the national side, however the most successful captain of India, MS Dhoni was impressed with him and made sure Ruturaj was selected for Chennai Super Kings in 2019 IPL.
There is an interesting story about their first meeting. MS had come to the stadium to watch his friend Kedar Jadhav bat for Maharashtra when he saw Gaikwad for the first time. Gaikwad, while playing was hurt during the match, but still went on to play for the team with the injury. Eventually, he was dismissed, but his courage impressed MS, who visited Ruturaj in the hospital and left a note saying "get well soon ".
Furthermore, the captain cool was left awestruck with the thinking of Ruturaj. In 2019 IPL, Ruturaj was not a part of the playing eleven. And in a match against CSK lost to KKR in a close encounter, due to the quickfire knock of Andre Russell. That's where post the match Ruturaj went on to Dhoni and suggested a few things which would have got Dre Russ out. Impressed Mahi told the plan he was trying to get Russell out, and said to Ruturaj, "you have a sharp cricketing mind, be involved in the game likewise I'm future".
Knowing his potential and sharp cricketing mind, Mahendra Singh Dhoni backed Ruturaj in the 2020 IPL, despite the first few failures with the bat. And the results were in front of everyone. He smashed a hat-trick of half-centuries in 2020 IPL last matches and went on to win the orange cap in IPL 2021. In between the two legs of IPL2021, he made his debut for Men in Blue in the T20s against Sri Lanka. He didn't perform up to the expectations, but his recent form in IPL 2021 and Vijay Hazare Trophy is making the selectors think of his name for the ODI series.
Ruturaj is a great player of both, swing and spin. He is naturally talented, which is why, despite being skinny, he manages to hit long sixes. He has a negligible gap between his bat and pads when he plays shots. Most of his runs come from a straight bat. He hardly tries to go across the line with a crossed bat, which makes it difficult for bowlers to breach his gap between bat and pads. The result can be seen now when he is scoring non-stop centuries.
He is a calm headed cricketer. No one has seen him lose his temper. He doesn't sledge the opposition, but he loves to answer the people who sledge him with his bat, something which we saw during the CSK encounter with RR. He is someone, who can make it to the list of elite players in the world. If utilized properly, he can be a boon to Men in Blue. With increasing competition for the opening slot, it would be interesting to see if he is selected or not. One can only hope, he gets a chance in the playing eleven and makes a mark in the chance. After all, he is the future superstar of India. We wish him all the best for the same.
Author:- Ashwin Jangam (Cricket Analyst, Host, Poet, Entertainer )
Insta I'd:- cricket_creativity