Ruturaj maneuvers effortlessly through rough seas.

Ruturaj maneuvers effortlessly through rough seas.

Ruturaj Gaikwad was taking on another task a few weeks prior to the start of the 2024 Indian Premier League, before he was even formally named as the new captain of the Chennai Super Kings. On a calm evening, he took some swimming lessons in the team hotel that had views of the Bay of Bengal on one side. The attention he received was nothing compared to what his former predecessor would receive.

Given the interest the job has garnered, CSK has effectively “soft-launched” his takeover of the team by keeping things under wraps and even putting him behind a bubble wrap.

After reaching the midway point, CSK has had a mixed record, winning more games than losing, but in the last few matches, they have seen their captain really step up and lead by example.

Marcus Stoinis’ game-winning hundred against the Lucknow Super Giants had knocked him down to second place. Ruturaj, nevertheless, was able to turn the spotlight back on himself by playing a similarly good innings against SRH. He had followed his strategy in every game rather than trying to outmuscle the opposition, as has recently become popular. His skill was in identifying the limits, and a certain level of successful foresight that led to limits.

It was one of the reasons Michael Hussey, his CSK batting coach and a former player of a comparable caliber, referred to him as “my favourite.”

Delicious shots were being made throughout the innings; at one point, he was taking Shahbaz Ahmed deep and then playing with Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s lengths, hitting him for a six to punish him for being short and then lofting the next full ball for a boundary. Throughout, it enabled him to meet the demands of a pitch with some grip and score at a healthy strike-rate.

His other batting skills, when they were at their peak, more than made up for his lack of power.

And as Hussey enumerated, there was plenty of that.

“He’s a brilliant batsman who possesses excellent timing, placement, and skill. He is aware of when to attack and when to maybe take a little strain. He is an excellent fast bowler and spin bowler who can score runs all over the field. He commented, “He’s wonderful to watch; he’s almost one step ahead of the bowler most of the time.”

The techniques are steeped in antiquated T20 batting knowledge, where the emphasis is placed equally on the length and speed of an innings.However, Hussey maintains that he intends to pass on this knowledge to the next in line. Some of the excellent work done there, however, runs the risk of being obscured by the exploits of explosiveness in the public eye.

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