Ruturaj Gaikwad rose to fame after giving Chennai Super Kings a glimmer of hope at the fag end of their horrendous IPL 2020 season when he came off the bench in the final few matches and scored a few half-centuries. Gaikwad, who was originally drafted into the CSK squad in 2019, later emerged as a mainstay opener for five-time champions, forming a threatening pair at the top of the order with Faf du Plessis in the following season and then with Devon Conway as CSK returned to dominance in 2023 season.
Amid the rise as a batter both in IPL and in domestic cricket, coupled with few opportunities for India as well over last couple of years, Gaikwad has also picked up a thing or two from the legendary MS Dhoni in terms of captaincy. In fact, following his experience as a skipper for Maharashtra in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy after IPL 2021 tournament there were a few discussions on whether the youngster could later go on to fill Dhoni’s shoes for CSK post the captain’s retirement. And while it still remains a far off call from Dhoni and Chennai, Ruturaj will have the opportunity to prove his worth as a captain when he leads the Indian squad in the Asian Games, starting October 3.
While most of want Ruturaj to emulate Dhoni’s captaincy style during the tournament, the batter clarified that he would want to lead India the way he wants.
“I got to learn a lot of things from him (Dhoni) but every person has a different style. His style is different, his personality is different and my personality is a bit different,” Gaikwad told the media here ahead of India’s first game. “I will try to be myself and not really look at what he usually does. Obviously, yes you have to pick out some things which he does really well, how he handles situations and how he handles particular players during a match. Obviously, these are (a) few things I really took from him, but I would like to lead the way I want to. I just want the players to express themselves and give how much ever freedom that I can.”
India will be favourites for another gold medal in Hangzhou after the women’s team had clinched the ultimate prize earlier in the Games. Gaikwad and Co. will open their campaign in the quarterfinal round on Tuesday against Nepal.
Gaikwad admitted that the players are eager to clinch the gold medal like their women counterparts.
“Coming to the Asian Games, everyone is eager to win the gold for the country and stand up on the podium,” he said.
“In cricket, we have the World Cup, the IPL and domestic tournaments. We are used to that kind of environment and situations. But coming here and going to the village, we really got to know about the athletes — what kinds of struggle they go through,” he said.