Gaikwad won the Orange Cap for amassing 635 runs during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 season. The 24-year-old also walked away with the Emerging Player of the Season award for his fabulous performances.
Gaikwad scored 32 off 27 in the IPL 2021 final against KKR in Dubai, and featured in an opening stand of 61 with Faf du Plessis (86). Thanks to their efforts, CSK posted a commanding 192 for 3 to win the final by 27 runs.
Reflecting on Gaikwad’s evolution in the CSK ranks, Fleming recalled that experts were critical of the youngster’s inclusion in the playing XI last year. But the CSK management backed his ability to the hilt. Fleming said at a post-match conference in this regard:
“He’s an absolute superstar already in my eyes. When we introduced him last year, people were a little bit critical, but we were keeping a tab on him, and had very high expectations. What we didn’t understand was the effect that COVID would have. We really felt for him during last year, and we were really delighted that he finished off the season so well.”
The CSK coach said that Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis’ prolific opening partnership went a long way in the franchise lifting their fourth IPL title. The former New Zealand captain said:
“With him (Ruturaj) and Faf (du Plessis) scoring so many runs, it’s one of the real reasons we won the IPL. I couldn’t be more happy for Ruturaj. He’s a wonderful guy, and, for a young player, his maturity is beyond his years. I can’t speak more highly about Ruturaj and his combination with Faf, which was critical.”
While Gaikwad emerged as IPL 2021’s leading run-scorer, Du Plessis finished only two runs behind him, smashing 633 runs in 16 games at a strike rate of 138.2.
“There have been a lot of discussions” - CSK coach on franchise’s rebuilding
With the mega auction slated ahead of IPL 2022, all franchises will have to rebuild their squads literally from scratch. According to unconfirmed reports, the teams will not be allowed to retain more than 3-4 players.
Admitting that CSK have already begun discussions over rebuilding the franchise, Fleming elaborated:
“Yeah, we are constantly looking and thinking about what next year could look like. We take a lot of pride in our philosophies and the way we construct our squads. Every other franchise will be doing that as well." "
This tournament has been good to look at some talent and also reconfirm what we stand for, and how we move forward. There have been a lot of discussions. Hopefully, we can put together another good side and carry on the CSK legacy.”
Apart from the mega auction, two new teams will join the existing eight franchises for the 2022 edition of the competition.