IPL 2023 – Ruturaj Gaikwad eager to play Chepauk in CSK colors in IPL 2023

Ruturaj Gaikwad is ‘waiting for the moment’ for Chennai Super Kings to return to Chepauk, which is the ground where ‘it all started’ for him.
Since the Covid-19 hit, the IPL has had to adapt and dispense with its usual round-trip format. In 2020, it took place behind closed doors in the United Arab Emirates. In 2021, he had to be suspended halfway and then moved abroad. In 2022, all 74 matches were held in Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata and Ahmedabad. Next year, the BCCI believe the tournament will return to normal, meaning the Super Kings will once again be back in their stronghold.
Gaikwad has been in Chennai for about a week, playing for India A against New Zealand A. While he has been in the Super Kings squad since 2019, he only made his debut in 2020 and never had the experience of playing in front of the Chepauk crowd in the yellow jersey.

“I had seen the vibe, I had seen the electrifying noise. I experienced it all. So obviously that was going through my head when I was training for two days [with India A in Chennai]”, Gaikwad said in a video for the Super Kings website. “I imagined the crowd and CSK entering the stadium. So basically, I’m just waiting for the moment. But the first time I played here was really special because I feel like this is where I started my journey. Coming to CSK and learning a lot, getting the first experience of what it’s like at the top level. So this is where it all started.”

Beyond the fanfare that welcomes the Super Kings to Chepauk, the pitch played an important role in the team becoming one of the best in the IPL. Super Kings teams over the years have been built to exploit rotation-friendly ground here and they will look forward to that home advantage when the league resumes. Plus, there’s a small matter of a (potentially) big farewell. In 2021, MS Dhoni said he hopes to finish his career at Chepauk.
Shardul Thakur, who was also part of the India A series, was also hit with nostalgia. After representing the Super Kings for four seasons, the speedy bowler was snapped up by the Delhi Capitals at the 2022 auction. He was a vital cog in CSK’s setup and signed his stint as first taker box office in IPL 2021.

“It’s really great, I mean the moment I walked into the stadium it was nostalgic,” Thakur said. “Yes, I had my time with CSK, I played a few games here, but even before that I played against Ranji [Trophy] Games. 2010 was my first game here in Chepauk. The stadium and the pitch have changed a lot since then but I would say the weather is still the same. [It’s an] amazing experience, I always look forward to playing Chepauk whenever the opportunity arises.”

The Chennai crowd also really supported India’s A team. While day one had around 200 spectators, it only grew, both in numbers and noise, until around 2,000 people turned out to watch the home side produce a 3-0 sweep . They cheered especially loudly every time Thakur ran and took a wicket. Chants of “CSK, CSK” echoed through the stadium whenever Gaikwad produced a good bit of pitch or whenever he hit those pleasant covers.
Both players have been in fine form recently with Thakur claiming a four wicket haul on day one against New Zealand A and Gaikwad racking up 108 and 94 against the same opponent in an unofficial Test.
“Obviously I’ve known him for a few years,” Thakur said of Gaikwad. “Actually, I remember someone telling me about him in 2017. Then I saw him doing well in the national circuit, then India A, then he got into the CSK setup. The see so good, and when he got his real opportunity, i mean when he played a full season in the IPL, he made an impression right away [scoring 635 runs in 16 innings]. He had played a few games in 2020 but he played a few games in the middle order and opened in one of the games.

“It was not a very kind passage towards him. But, in 2021, he scored from the first game until the final. He was the best player in CSK, and he actually lived up to everyone’s expectations “It’s good to see when a youngster comes and delivers for the team and immediately makes the mark lifting the trophy, I would say – not just in the league or knockout stages, but to lift the trophy.”

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