INDIA TOUR OF ZIMBABWE, 2024

To fill in Kohli's shoes is really tough - Ruturaj Gaikwad

by   •  Published on
The India batter is playing at No 3 in the ongoing T20I series against Zimbabwe
The India batter is playing at No 3 in the ongoing T20I series against Zimbabwe © AFP

Just a few months ago, Ruturaj Gaikwad received a pleasant surprise after being asked to lead Chennai Super Kings in the IPL. He had massive shoes to fill having replaced MS Dhoni at the helm. And now in the ongoing series in Zimbabwe, Ruturaj is staking his claim to nail down the No.3 spot that's been left vacant after the T20I retirement of Virat Kohli, who batted in that position for most of his career.

In the second T20I against Zimbabwe, Ruturaj made a significant contribution in India's win and is expected to continue at No.3 for the rest of the series. "Wherever the team sends me, I'm happy to bat there," Ruturaj said on his batting position on the eve of the third T20I. "There isn't much of a difference opening the batting or playing at Number 3. You still have to play the new ball. Not much of a difference.

"It's a really big topic, it's not the right point to think about it," he said on filling the No.3 slot. "To compare to him or to fill in his shoes is really tough. As I had said in the IPL as well, its difficult to fill Mahi bhai's shoes as well. You want to start your own career, you want to play your own game. That's the priority right now, focus on one game, focus on making your team win - for whichever side you play - and make sure you're on the winning side more often than not."

Ruturaj admitted that the batting conditions in Zimbabwe are slightly trickier. India did get a reality check in the first T20I, which they lost. "It's definitely challenging," he said. "It's slightly unique. If you have seam movement coming at you in one pace, you can still negotiate it. But here it's slightly double-paced and the bounce is also slightly variable. That's causing a bit of difference. When the ball is new, it's slightly tougher to score. But once the ball becomes old, with fast outfield and relatively small straight boundaries, you can convert your runs after that."

Asked if captaining in the IPL has brought about any changes in his thought process, Ruturaj claimed that nothing has changed in his batting. "To be honest, not much has changed," he noted. "My batting has always been the same - take responsibility and play and try to finish the game. It's just that the way you look at the game, you are more involved when you are used to captaining an IPL team. You tend to be in the game for a longer period of time than when you're standing at the boundary and just focussing on one ball at a time. But batting-wise, not much of a difference."

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