“Dhoni always tells Ruturaj to stay away from social media. Apart from batting tips, how to handle pressure, and accelerating the run rate, Dhoni’s advice of staying away from social media to Ruturaj has worked well for him. Dhoni also tells Ruturaj that success and failure are both part of the process, so, always back your game, no matter what people say,” Ruturaj’s coach Sandeep Chavan told TimesofIndia.com in an exclusive interview.
One of the youngsters in that team is Ruturaj Gaikwad who is in red-hot form in the 2021 Indian Premier League. He sent the Rajasthan Royals bowlers on a leather hunt to notch up his maiden IPL century this season. Gaikwad struck nine fours and five sixes in his 60-ball 101 not out to torment the Royals’ bowling attack. Some of his breathtaking shots were applauded by CSK team-mates, including skipper Dhoni, from the dressing room.
“The confidence to score freely has been injected by MS Dhoni in Ruturaj. Apart from Dhoni, Raina and Rayudu have really been helping him (Ruturaj). All the credit should be given to Dhoni and the CSK team. Ruturaj tells me this big thing about Dhoni and his team that if you perform well, they will appreciate you, but if you are not able to perform, they will treat you in the same way. They won’t let you feel that you had a bad outing in the middle. That’s the best thing about CSK,” Chavan further said.
Ruturaj Gaikwad and MS Dhoni (BCCI/IPL Photo)
“He (Ruturaj) has the ability to learn from his mistakes. He learns from an innings played and applies the learnings in his next innings. This is the thing that drives him forward. He has improved by leaps and bounds in the CSK team. He calls it a big company. Big company of Dhoni, Raina and Rayudu. He has got a lot of confidence and freedom from Dhoni and Raina. They both have played a big role in his batting evolution. He is a natural talent. He is thin and not that muscular, but the way he hits the ball out of the park is amazing. It is his natural talent,” Chavan further said.
‘RUTURAJ HAS DRAVID-LIKE AGGRESSION’
A calm and composed Ruturaj has never been seen getting involved in an altercation or sledging during a match. If someone tries to do that to him, he remains calm and ensures that he replies with his actions, not his words.
During the match against Rajasthan Royals, pacer Akash Singh had a few things to say to Ruturaj, after he edged a delivery for a boundary. Ruturaj didn’t react to that, but when Akash came to bowl his fourth and last over, the CSK batsman smashed two fours and a six in his over to let his bat do the talking.
Ruturaj Gaikwad (BCCI/IPL/ANI Photo)
“Ruturaj knows how to grab opportunities. He never allows bowlers to dominate him. He doesn’t sledge and doesn’t like to be sledged. He doesn’t carry any baggage and settles things right there in the middle. In the match against RR, Akash Singh paid the price for saying a few words to him in the middle. That’s how Ruturaj gives it back,” Chavan told TimesofIndia.com.
“Once Matthew Hayden said, if you want to see aggression, look into Rahul Dravid’s eyes. Similarly, if you want to see aggression, look into Ruturaj’s eyes. He is that kind of a player. He will not speak, but he will answer you and that too perfectly with his batting. Ruturaj has Dravid-like aggression,” the coach said.
‘WHEN A 13-YEAR-OLD RUTURAJ PLAYED WITH UNDER-19 BOYS’
Ruturaj is a product of the Vengsarkar Cricket Academy. He was 11 when his father Dashrath Gaikwad took him to Chavan, who was the head coach of the academy. Just like every other student, Chavan asked Ruturaj to pad up and hit the nets. Chavan threw some deliveries at him with the help of a sidearm ball thrower. Ruturaj showed some good technique and played those with ease.
“His father Dashrath is a nice man. He wanted Ruturaj to become a cricketer. And Ruturaj was also determined. He had hit those deliveries quite well. He had good eye contact with the ball. He had good hand-eye coordination. All he needed was proper guidance. I decided to take him to my academy. With time, he continued to impress me. When he was 13, I decided to play him with Under-19 boys and he scored a half-century. I was so happy that I had judged his talent right. He is God’s gift to Indian cricket,” Chavan said.
Sandeep Chavan and Ruturaj Gaikwad
“He was a middle-order batsman but when he reached Under-16, I convinced him to open the innings for the team. I told him that he won’t face any problems when he reaches the state level. I wanted him to be perfect with the new ball, because he was already playing the old ball very well. After some time, during a club tournament, he went out to open for the first time and scored a hundred and then a 95 in the next match,” the coach said.
RUTURAJ – POTENTIAL FUTURE INDIA OPENER
Chavan is confident that the 24-year-old has enough talent and drive to cement his place as a future opening batsman in the Indian team.
“Ruturaj needs to work a bit more in red-ball cricket. But when it comes to the white ball formats, he is outstanding. He is a future India opening batsman. He batted for 20 overs against RR and then again was on the field. This is a sign of his dedication and passion. This will take him forward,” Chavan signed off.