Gaikwad proved his worth when the team was going through a tough period in the UAE, showcasing his class with stroke-filled knocks in IPL 2020. He was eventually retained by CSK in the lead up to the auction in February.
However, the 24-year-old batsman from Maharashtra headed into the new IPL season without a lot of runs under his belt. Gaikwad scored a hundred in the Vijay Hazare Trophy but his form in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy was far from impressive — 94 runs in 5 matches.
After getting out for an 8-ball 5 in CSK’s IPL 2021 opening match against Delhi Capitals, Gaikwad struggled to put bat to ball on a difficult batting pitch in Mumbai on Friday in their 6-wicket win over Punjab Kings. Gaikwad had no rhythm to his innings and eventually got out for 5 from 16 balls.
“I am really happy with the balance of the team. Ruturaj, I believe, is a fine player. He got a good ball in the first match and very difficult conditions today. It was not a 220 wicket today. It was quite different,” Fleming told reporters after CSK’s victory.
“He is a young player whom we showed faith in last year and his talent came through. Look, our philosophy when we pick players and put them in the team is to back them. And this combination is certainly (a reflection of) that.”
Gaikwad needs to return to form as CSK have alternate options for each position in the XI. Notably, the 3-time champions had secured the services of former Kolkata Knight Riders opener Robin Uthappa via a trade from the Rajasthan Royals. Uthappa was in fine form for Kerala in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 50-over tournament, hitting 377 runs, including 2 hundreds, in 6 matches.