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IPL 2024 | Ruturaj Gaikwad says he was told about leading Chennai Super Kings in 2022

Chennai Super Kings’ Ruturaj Gaikwad, who led from the front in the win against KKR on April 8 night, was stunningly appointed CSK captain a day before the IPL opener on March 22

The charismatic Mahendra Singh Dhoni told Ruturaj Gaikwad to be prepared for Chennai Super Kings captaincy back in 2022 and he has been ready ever since even though there were no “deep conversations” between the two on how to lead one of the most successful IPL units.

Gaikwad, who led from the front in the win against Kolkata Knight Riders on April 8 night, was stunningly appointed CSK captain a day before the IPL opener on March 22.

The team’s earlier leadership experiment with Ravindra Jadeja did not work but the CSK think-tank has been bullish about Gaikwad’s long-term reign. Dhoni is known for his no nonsense approach and that is how he discussed the transition with Gaikwad.

“To be honest, not really deep conversations. I feel it was in a very chilled state. Just one conversation I would say. Just we were practicing and he came and told me all this stuff,” Gaikwad said in the post-match press conference after the seven-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders in Chennai on April 8.

“Obviously, everyone, others on the outside, would think they are big shoes to fill, but I feel I would always be myself and I would like to continue the culture that has been going on.

“I remember in 2022 when he told me, ‘Probably not next year, but after that, you might get a chance to lead, so be ready for it’. So, obviously after that, I was always ready for it,” said the opener.

A franchise like CSK is quite meticulous with its planning and that is why head coach Stephen Fleming was discussing field and bowling changes with Gaikwad last year.

“It was nothing new to me or a surprise or a shock. I know how to control the game. I know how the game progresses, which change [to make], and what to do when, as I was doing for the State team [Maharashtra] as well.

“Even last year, Fleming and I used to discuss captaincy after every game, about how I felt, what changes, bowling changes what I felt we needed to do, this or that. Every game, we had one-on-one conversations so that really helped.” When asked what change had he brought in as skipper, Gaikwad asserted that he believes in continuity.

“Captaincy-wise, I don’t want to be a specific kind of character. Just let things flow and keep the culture of CSK going. The success that we had and the things we have been doing, I don’t want to change a single bit of it.

“I just want to come here, make my own decisions and just give as much freedom as possible because that’s what has been happening from when I joined CSK. Nothing really changes and I’m enjoying a lot.” “Captaincy, while batting, is a totally different approach”

Gaikwad’s batting as the skipper this season has not been at his usual best but he made an unbeaten 67 against KKR.

When asked if captaincy had compelled him to make some changes to his batting, he said, “Sometimes there are phases where you get good balls. Sometimes there are phases where you are slightly unlucky. Sometimes there are phases where things don’t really fall in shape.

“So, you don’t really need to think on that. I always felt I was in good shape, starting really well, good headspace, so I wasn’t really worried.

“And captaincy, while batting, is a totally different approach. Even when I was playing my first game, or the first fifty I scored for CSK, I think (it was a) similar kind of situation.

“We were chasing 140 and I always wanted to stay till the end and make sure I finish the innings so pretty much same. Nothing really changes even though I am captain or not,” he said referring to the 138-run target set by KKR.