In India, lakhs of children dream to pursue a career in cricket and at one stage in their life, every child dreams of donning the Indian jersey. They put in their whole-hearted effort to succeed on the ground and their performances speak volumes of their hard work.
One such story is of Indian cricketer Ruturaj Gaikwad, who has been making the headlines with his recent performances.
For a few years now, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is the centre of attraction for a cricketer if one has to come into the limelight. But, Gaikwad had a different idea as he grabbed the spotlight with his performances in domestic cricket. The stylish right-handed batsman has scored over 2000 runs at an average of 57.08 in list A cricket. In his previous ten list A games, Ruturaj has scored 689 runs at an average of 98.42.
His consistency and recent performances have helped him make a name for himself. He was recently named in India Blue's side for the Duleep Trophy which is scheduled to begin on August 17.
In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda, Ruturaj talks about his career, his passion, IPL experience and his goals.
"I started playing cricket at the age of 4-5 but I think my professional career began from the age of 10-11 when I joined the clubs. I think I wasn’t very serious till the age of 14-15 so after my under 16s, I took cricket seriously and devoted more time to practice and then I realised I can pursue my career in cricket after performing well during that early phase", Ruturaj said, as he talked about his early cricket experience.
Owing to his performances, Gaikwad was procured by the Chennai Super Kings for the 2019 edition of the IPL. Albeit he did not get a game, the 22-year-old reckons this stint as a wonderful experience which will help his career to shape up. "My experience with Chennai Super Kings was great. I think I got to spend time with some great players in the game who have so much experience and I think it helped me".
The Maharashtra lad talked about his learning from Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni. "It was great learning with Mahi bhai. What he thinks at a particular stage in the game and how he gets to know the game inside out and at the same time maintain his composure and how he handles the pressure situations in a calm manner", said Gaikwad about the time he spent with Dhoni. The former Indian captain's insightful cricketing mind comes as no surprise to his followers.
Gaikwad's recent exploits have made him an India A star. He acknowledged his recent form but his words depicted a hunger to score more runs and perform well for his team. He averages 57.08 in list A cricket but his average drops to 38.71 when it comes to first-class cricket. While talking about the two formats, Gaikwad admitted to liking both formats equally and also talked about having the right mindset.
"I think personally, I’m not even satisfied in list A cricket. I think I’ve missed out on as much as 5-6 hundreds. I have got out in the 80-90s about 7-8 times in the ODI format and I would say the same about first-class cricket, I have had a lot of 40-50s and 70-80s which I could've converted into 100s. I'm not worried a lot but I'm not satisfied either, I want to dominate in all the three formats and be consistent".
He continued, "I think I enjoy both the formats but I love playing one-day cricket because I’ve been playing a lot recently. One of the reasons for it is that you play a match in every one or two days so it’s a different challenge to come out and perform again and again in such a short time and be consistent in it. I even love first-class cricket. I love challenges, I'm determined and ready to step up for all the challenges", Gaikwad said with determination.
His positive mindset helps him in all situations. Speaking on the importance of having the right frame of mind, the 22-year-old said, "It’s all about your mindset, having the right mindset helps a lot but I try to be positive every time I step out on the field. The advice I follow is that you always have to back yourself in the field. I try to go match by match and be consistent, it's a satisfactory feeling to be the match-winner for your side, I really like contributing to the team's success".
While talking about his future goals, Gaikwad mentioned his desire to don the Indian colours and also talked about scoring a double-hundred in one-day cricket. "I am eager to score a double-hundred in ODIs, I got very close once against Sri Lanka A, I scored 187*, I would've scored a 200 had it been a 50-over game, that is my best game till now". The match was unfortunately reduced to 42 overs a side due to rain.
Gaikwad's perseverance, confidence and hard work is something to look forward to. He will be in action when India Blue takes the field in the Duleep Trophy which will be played at Bangalore.