Ahmedabad, April 1 (VOICE) Chennai Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming showered praise on opener Ruturaj Gaikwad, saying the right-handed batter is an outstanding talent who is highly rated by the team think-tank.
Gaikwad set the stage alight in the 2023 IPL opener at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, scoring a scintillating 50-ball 92 against Gujarat Titans, including reaching his fifty in 23 balls. He left more than 1,00,000 spectators in awe of his wristy strokeplay and more eye-pleasing shots, though Chennai didn’t get a win to start their campaign on a high.
“He (Ruturaj) is an outstanding talent. We rate him so highly and we think he is an absolute class player. He has got power, he has got touch and only good things will happen to him,” said Fleming in the post-match press conference.
Gaikwad’s efforts meant Chennai were in command at 121/4 after 13 overs, and the stage set for a scintillating finishing touch. But rest of the batters couldn’t do much as Chennai finished with 178, which Gujarat chased down with five wickets in hand.
“Ruturaj played a great hand. We just did not quite capitalize. They bowled well from the 12th to the 16th over and we could not get that final push. But still, 180 was a good score. We were looking at what tempo to play. All in all, I loved the positivity and the aggression, and on any other day we would have got to 200,” added Fleming.
Gaikwad, who has been in Chennai since 2019, but got his chances in 2020, also earned praise from Hardik Pandya, the Gujarat Titans skipper and potentially, the person who could lead India in 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup. “To be very honest, we all know the kind of player he is, at one point of time it looked like CSK would score 220-230. We were finding it difficult as to what areas we should bowl because he’s an all-round cricketer, plays cricketing shots.”
“I genuinely felt that we can’t err to him at all; some of the shots that he played, they weren’t to bad balls. They were actually good balls, that made the big difference and more challenging for us as a bowling unit and captain. Full credit to him, if he continues batting like this, he’s going to do wonders to Indian cricket. I’m sure he has the game, when the time comes I’m sure the Indian cricket team will also back him enough.”
Another youngster who was impressive for Fleming and Chennai was pace all-rounder Rajvardhan Hangargekar, who registered figures of 3/36 in his four overs on IPL debut. “There has been some big improvement. His first-class work has been more consistent. Making your debut in front of 100000 people is a big ask, and he did well.”
“There were some lapses which will come with a young player, but to get some reward, some wickets and getting a game is huge for him. And, we are careful about how we introduce the players, so we make sure that they have the tools to deal with these pressure situations, and he will get better from it. We will continue working with him.”