Chennai Super Kings' captain Ruturaj Gaikwad has regained his scoring touch despite the additional pressure in IPL this season Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: It’s all about power-hitting in whiteball cricket. Muscular men wield their bats like a mace to bludgeon the bowlers with the capability to launch even a mistimed shot into the orbit. But Ruturaj Gaikwad, a lanky figure, has been painting a completely new picture and has rewritten the laws of modern day batting.

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The 27-year-old is in the mould of a classic batter who could fit into all formats of the game. He doesn’t exhibit the aggression of the current generation by chest-thumping or pumped fists. Gaikwad is a smiling assassin, though he doesn’t smile too often on the field. He dissects the bowling with the precision of an experienced surgeon and has the capability to amputate the rivals under anaesthesia.

He could hit long sixes and has the record of hitting the longest one of 2021 season, clearing 108 metres. How does he achieve it and what makes Gaikwad special?

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The stability of his pose while playing the shots and the sheer timing from the centre of the bat gives him the edge to pierce through the field. The added advantage he has is that as he depends on middling the ball, even a mistimed lofted shot doesn’t have the legs to go to the boundary fielder while a perfect shot takes the ball sailing over the fence.

Gaikwad’s mental strength and the attitude are his strengths and the Chennai Super Kings opener is able to carry the huge responsibility of filling in the big shoes of Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the skipper of the five-time champions. Still, the Maharashtra batter has not dropped his form.

Moving down the pecking order

Gaikwad was two runs short of a second consecutive century in the Indian Premier League Season 17 but he put the team in front before his milestone, the hallmark of Yellove outfit.

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The Chennai Super Kings opener plays one of his trademark cover drive during his 98 against Sunrisers Hyderabad at home on Sunday. Image Credit: IPL-X

“I was never even thinking about the hundred. I was just trying to make sure we get to 220 or whatever extra runs possible. Even in the last game I wasn’t thinking about the hundred. I was upset I missed a few shots. At the innings break I thought it would cost us. But in the end it worked out,” Gaikwad told official broadcasters after leading Super Kings to a thumping win over Sunrisers Hyderabad to take the Whistlepodu team to third spot in the IPL table.

Gaikwad has moved down the pecking order in openers after an untimely finger injury in South Africa forced him out of the One-Day Internationals and Tests against South Africa. Mumbai left-hander Yashasvi Jaiswal has cemented his place at the top of the order, pushing Shubman Gill to No 3 in ODIs and Tests.

Ability to handle extra pressure

However, the right-hander has displayed the same tenacity that helped him overcome the difficult start to his IPL career to comeback and stake his claim in the Indian team. His performance with the bat in this IPL with 447 runs in nine matches including one century and three half-centuries, despite the extra pressure, has given enough reasons for the selectors to spring a surprise when they pick the Indian team for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in the West Indies and USA in June.

“It’s really tough to play in such wet conditions and to win by 78 runs was a very clinical performance. Great win for us. The conditions are too hot and humid. In the last game I had batted for 20 overs and 19 overs today (Sunday),” he added.

Gaikwad has been plundering runs in the IPL over the last few seasons and finished just short in the race Organge Cap in 2021 and has scored 590 runs last season. He has the ability to motivate not just his teammates, but even his rivals. So impressive was his century against Lucknow Super Giants that inspired Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis produce a masterclass to beat the hosts Chennai in their own backyard.

Gaikwad by his own admission is not very vocal and does not believe in shouting and screaming, instead the Chennai captain lets his bat is talk loud and clear.