Maharashtra batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad, who made his international debut against Sri Lanka last month, described his time with the national team as a ‘dream come true’ and revealed that he lived every moment of the two days he spent on the field.
Gaikwad was an unused squad member in the three ODI matches, but a Covid outbreak within the Indian camp meant that the 24-year-old featured in the final two T20Is. Gaikwad did not make the most use of his opportunities, falling for scores of 21 and 14, but the right-hander, during his brief stay in the middle in both the games, gave a sneak peek into his talent and ability, crunching delightful boundaries.
An India A regular, Gaikwad asserted that he will ‘forever remember’ the time he spent donning the Indian jersey.
"I will forever remember it. It ended in two days and we did not win (referring to playing on consecutive days), I lived every moment of it,” TOI quoted Gaikwad as saying.
“A dream come true. It struck me that I want to go out there, again and again, keep performing for the team.”
Luckily for the 24-year-old, his international debut was overseen by Rahul Dravid, who was also incidentally his mentor during his time with the ‘A’ side. Gaikwad revealed that Dravid’s advice to all the youngsters was to ‘think and adapt’, and lauded the 48-year-old’s calming presence.
"I've spent a couple of years with Rahul (Dravid) sir during my India 'A' days and his theory has always been the same: 'Think and adapt'.
"Even when we were left with five batters, he assured us that we were all there on merit and asked us to make the most of the opportunity," Gaikwad added.
That Gaikwad got his international debut was partly down to some consistent performances in the ‘A’ set-up, but it was his exploits in the IPL for Chennai Super Kings that turned him into a household name.
The 24-year-old struck back-to-back-to-back fifties for his franchise in IPL 2020, his debut season, while he also proved integral to the team’s success in the first half of IPL 2021, striking 196 runs in the first 7 matches of the season.
A vital cog in the Dhoni-led CSK unit, Gaikwad asserted that he is focused on helping the Men in Yellow reclaim the IPL title, a crown they last won in 2018.
"It has been three years since we won the IPL title and I am focused on helping CSK reclaim it. The team has shown faith in my abilities and I must give my 110% to contribute towards the team's success.”