Chennai Super Kings (CSK) coach Stephen Fleming backed opener Ruturaj Gaikwad despite the latter’s poor form in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021. The former New Zealand captain cited the 24-year-old batsman’s form in IPL 2020 as a reason for pursuing him.
Ruturaj Gaikwad, who amassed 204 runs at 51 in IPL 2020, has managed just 20 runs from his three outings this season. With a seasoned campaigner like Robin Uthappa waiting in the wings, fans and pundits are already predicting a change at the CSK’s top-order.
However, coach Stephen Fleming clarified that according to the CSK philosophy, every player gets adequate opportunities before a decision is taken.
“Ya, Robin Uthappa is waiting. But Ruturaj Gaikwad earned a bit of time with the way he played last season. You know our philosophy. We give players a good amount of chances in what they are trying to do. We will continue to back him. Then see and make a decision soon. At the moment, we are backing a good young player,” said Stephen Fleming at the post-match presentation after CSK’s 45-run win over Rajasthan Royals at Mumbai on Monday.
Time running out for Ruturaj Gaikwad
Ruturaj Gaikwad became a household name after a couple of brilliances for CSK in IPL 2020. Contracting COVID-19 after the side landed in UAE, the young player recovered and made a mark for himself after initial failures.
However, post-IPL 2021, his form hasn’t been something to talk about. He scored only 94 runs for Maharashtra in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) 2021 at 18.8, striking at 116. In the Vijay Hazare Trophy (VHT) last month, he got a hundred but failed to get big scores in the rest of four innings. He finished the tournament with 182 runs at 36.4.
In contrast, Robin Uthappa scored 377 runs at 75.4 and at a strike rate of almost 132. He even had a decent outing for Kerala in the SMAT, where he got 161 runs at 32.2, striking at 140.
With form on Robin Uthappa’s side, Ruturaj Gaikwad will need to step up soon and replicate his show from 2020.