Chennai Super Kings batter Ruturaj Gaikwad's dazzling knock of 92 went in vain in the IPL opener against Gujarat Titans, but opposition captain Hardik Pandya was all praise of him, saying that he will do wonders for Indian cricket. (More Cricket News)
Gaikwad's classy knock off just 50 balls from which he struck four boundaries and nine sixes took CSK to 178 for 7. The Titans, however, chased down the target with four balls to spare, riding on Shubman Gill's 63 off 36 balls on Friday.
"Some of the shots he (Gaikwad) played was nothing to do with the bowling. There were some tremendous shots. Full credit to him the way he batted, and if he continues to do so he is going to do wonders for Indian cricket," Pandya told reporters at the post-match conference.
"He has the game and when the time comes I am sure the Indian cricket team will back him enough," he said.
The 26-year-old Gaikwad has played nine T20Is after making his debut in July 2021, scoring 135 runs at a modest average of 16.87. He had also played one ODI in 2022.
Pandya said the way Gaikwad was batting on Friday, it was getting difficult to bowl at him.
“Obviously, we all know what kind of a player he (Gaikwad) is. It looked like at one time CSK would score 220-230. We were finding it difficult on what area we should bowl at him. I had genuinely felt that we would not get him out at all,” the Titans captain said.
"He is all-round cricketer, some of the shots he played were not bad balls, actually good balls and that makes a lot of difference. As a bowling unit and as a captain, that made my job more difficult,” he said.
Analysing his side's win in the last over, Pandya said, "A couple of shots from myself and Shubman put us in a difficult situation, but again Rahul (Tewatia) getting the best out of his ability and Rashid coming in and showing what he can do.
"So overall we are quite happy, but in a way, a lot of things we can learn from this victory. Even (if) we had lost we would have learnt a lot of things."
The Titans needed 41 off the last five overs, but CSK managed to take the game down to the wire. It needed a cameo from Rashid Khan (10 not out off 3 balls) to settled the nerves in the Titans dressing room.
"It's very good to start with a win. What Rashid did, we expected that from him, we showed a lot of trust and confidence in his batting, which he had shown again and again. When we lost Kane (injured while fielding during CSK innings) that put us a little back.
"I don't think it was too long. It was five overs and 40 runs and we would have got it any day. Just that we lost one too many wickets.
"It boils down to the shot which I played and the shot Shubman played. It's not about blaming, it is accepting our mistakes. Within the team we have set quite a high standard. Even we would have lost the game, we would have said we were not at our best but we were still competing.”
Talking about his bowling unit, he said, "As bowlers, we are bound to be put under pressure at some point in time. My job is very simple: let them (bowlers) do what they are good at. And if they are confused, I am always standing by their side.
"I am very lucky, I have so many talented bowlers. I just backed them. It is very simple, they can bluff the batters but not me. When something is happening, my rule is: I always back my bowlers till I know what they are doing."