Imagine you’re all geared up prepared to participate in the biggest cricketing league in the world but get contracted by a life-threatening disease like COVID-19 just before the tournament. Yes, we’re talking about Ruturaj Gaikwad, a youngster from Chennai Super Kings who just scored his maiden IPL fifty in only his fourth IPL match of the season.
The local boy from Pune was first bought by the Chennai Super Kings franchise in the 2019 IPL auction for a mere amount of 20 Lakh rupees. As the 2019 season progressed where Chennai Super Kings finished runners up, he failed to find a single game for himself in the entire season.
The latter did not stop despite failing to get a single game in the 2019 IPL season. As on June 2019, Ruturaj Gaikwad scored an unbeaten 187 playing for India A against Sri Lanka in an unofficial ODI opening alongside Shubman Gill in Belgaum which is said to be one of the highest List A scores by an Indian batsman.
In the 2020 IPL season, Ruturaj Gaikwad was touted to be of the front runners to bat in top order for Chennai Super Kings in the absence of Suresh Raina who had backed out due to personal reasons. But just before the season began, Ruturaj Gaikwad along with Deepak Chahar and 10 other members of the support staff were tested positive for COVID-19.
Ruturaj then went into quarantine to recover from the disease and then finally returned to training though this time he had to wait for his opportunity as Chennai Super Kings don’t really fancy making too many changes to their side after they have decided their dedicated playing XI in the first match.
He was provided with an opportunity against Rajasthan Royals at Sharjah Cricket Stadium where he was dismissed off the very first delivery as he was stumped by Sanju Samson. A lot of discussions took place about the youngster’s intention to step out on the very first delivery but people didn’t see the other side of the story as Chennai Super Kings were already struggling in the chase and which is why there was no time to settle for the youngster.
Also, another point to be noted was Ruturaj Gaikwad being an opening batsman was asked to bat in the middle order for Chennai Super Kings which meant he was batting out of position for the franchise in yellow.
In the following match, he was dropped as Chennai Super Kings looked to move on to another player in the side. As the season progressed, Chennai Super Kings’ chances of qualifying for the playoffs looked bleak as they were struggling through with a series on losses in the tournament. Then came a time when MS Dhoni himself lost hope of qualifying for playoffs and insisted that they would look to try out the bench strength in order to build a team for the 2021 season.
The youngster was yet again included in the playing XI but this time as an opener for the franchise against Mumbai Indians which again wasn’t a pleasant game for the MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings as the Mumbai bowlers led a riot against the Chennai Super Kings wherein Ruturaj Gaikwad was dismissed LBW in the very first over by Trent Boult.
It all looked as if the young batter might have just played his last for the franchise this season. But Chennai Super Kings team management insisted and provided the man from Pune another opportunity against Royal Challengers Bangalore at Dubai International Cricket Stadium. This time Ruturaj Gaikwad was here to stay and cause an impact in the match as he first started off by plucking a catch from Faf Du Plessis at the boundary rope to dismiss Devdutt Padikkal.
After showing his heroics as a fielder it was time for him to shine as a batsman for his side. Opening the innings, chasing a target of 146 runs on the board Ruturaj Gaikwad scored an unbeaten knock of 65 runs off 51 deliveries helping Chennai Super Kings register the only fourth victory of the season.
At the post-match presentation, Ruturaj Gaikwad spoke about how tough it was for him to make a comeback into the side after getting tested positive for the coronavirus disease as he had to re-enter mandatory quarantine and then return back to training. Well, in the end, Ruturaj Gaikwad did manage to make a solid comeback and show the world what he’s capable of doing for the franchise in the long run.
As we celebrate the match-winning knock of Ruturaj Gaikwad; let us take at some unknown facts of the Pune cricketer:
1. Ruturaj Gaikwad was born on 31st January 1997 in Pune in the state of Maharashtra, India.
2. Ruturaj Gaikwad made his first-class debut in the year 2016 at the age of 19 by representing Maharashtra. In his debut against Jharkhand at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi, he managed just 15 runs batting in just one innings as he injured himself while fielding.
3. The opening batsmen earned his first IPL contract in the year 2019 as he was picked up Chennai Super Kings for 20 lakh rupees.
4. In 2018, Ruturaj Gaikwad was named in India’s team for the 2018 ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup.
5. In the 19 first-class matches Ruturaj Gaikwad has represented Maharashtra, he has notched up 1193 runs at an average of 37.3 with includes three hundred and six fifties.
6. In June 2019, Ruturaj Gaikwad scored an unbeaten 187 playing for India A against Sri Lanka in an Unofficial ODI opening alongside Shubman Gill in Belgaum.