'I was imagining the crowd and CSK entering the stadium' - Gaikwad on playing in Chennai
Ruturaj Gaikwad is craving to play the IPL for Chennai Super Kings in Chennai. He recently played an unofficial ODI for India A against New Zealand A and felt the electrifying crowd and energy.
India batter Ruturaj Gaikwad is looking forward to competing for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 at the MA Chidambaram (Chepauk) Stadium, "where it all started" for him. IPL 2023 would return to its classic home-and-away format. The IPL has been held at only a limited number of venues since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. However, with the pandemic under control, the cash-rich domestic Twenty20 (T20) competition will return to its aged format, where every side plays a home and an away game against every other side. Gaikwad played for India A during the unofficial One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against New Zealand A in the city a few days back.
"I had seen the atmosphere. I had seen the electrifying noise. I have experienced everything. So, that was going on in my mind when I would practise for two days [with India A in Chennai]. I was imagining the crowd and CSK entering the stadium. So actually, I am just waiting for the moment," Gaikwad said in a video post by CSK.
Gaikwad joined CSK in IPL 2019. Regardless, he made his debut for the Yellow Army in IPL 2020 and has yet to play in Chennai. "But the first time I played here was particular because I feel this is where I started my journey. Coming to CSK and learning many things, getting to know the first experience of what it is at the higher level. So, this is the place where it all started," he added.
Gaikwad's breakthrough came in IPL 2021, finishing as the highest run-scorer (635 in 16 contests) for CSK, leading to its fourth title win. Former CSK speedster Shardul Thakur, who also participated in just-concluded India A series, recalled his Chepauk experience. "It feels great. I mean, the moment I entered the stadium, it felt all nostalgic. Yes, I have had my times with CSK, I have played a few games here, but even before that, I have played Ranji [Trophy] games," Thalur remembered.
Thakur was with CSK for four seasons and was its leading wicket-taker in IPL 2021. "2010 was my first game here in Chepauk. The stadium and the ground have changed a lot since then, but the weather is still the same. [It's an] amazing experience. I would always look forward to playing in Chepauk whenever there is an opportunity," he concluded.
(With inputs from PTI)