IPL 2023 – Ruturaj Gaikwad is eager to play at Chepauk in CSK colors in IPL 2023

Ruturaj Gaikwad is “waiting for the moment” when Chennai Super Kings return to Chepauk, the ground where “it all began” for him.
Since Covid-19 hit, the IPL has had to adapt and do without its usual home-from-home format. In 2020, it took place behind closed doors in the UAE. In 2021, it had to be shelved halfway through and then shifted abroad. In 2022, all 74 matches were held in Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata and Ahmedabad. Next year, the BCCI thinks the tournament will return to normal, meaning the Super Kings will be back in their fortress.
Gaikwad has been in Chennai for the past week, playing for India A against New Zealand A. Although he has been part of the Super Kings side since 2019, he only debuted in 2020 and has never had the experience of playing in front of the Chepauk crowd in the yellow jersey.

“I had seen the atmosphere, I had seen the exciting sound. I experienced everything. So that was clearly in my mind when I would practice for two days [with India A in Chennai]Gaikwad said in a video for the Super Kings website. “I imagined the crowd and CSK entering the stadium. So basically I’m just waiting for the moment. But the first time I played here was actually special because I feel this is where I started my journey. Coming to CSK and learning a lot of things, getting to know the first experience of what it is at the higher level. So this is where it all started.”

In addition to the fanfare that greets the Super Kings in Chepauk, the ground has been instrumental in the team becoming one of the best in the IPL. Super Kings clubs have been built over the years to exploit the spin-friendly fields here and they’ll be looking forward to that bit of home advantage when the competition starts up again. Plus there’s a small matter of a big goodbye (possibly). In 2021 MS Dhoni said he hopes to finish his career with Chepauk.
Shardul Thakur, who was also a part of the India A series, was also struck with nostalgia. After four seasons representing the Super Kings, the fast bowler was picked up by Delhi Capitals in the 2022 auction. He was a vital cog in the CSK lineup, signing off his stint as their leading wicket taker in IPL 2021.

“It feels really great, I mean the moment I entered the stadium it all felt nostalgic,” Thakur said. “Yes, I’ve had my time at CSK, I’ve played a few games here, but even before that I played Ranji. [Trophy] spell. 2010 was my first game here in Chepauk. The stadium and ground have changed a lot since then but I would say the weather is still the same. [It’s an] great experience, I would always look forward to playing in Chepauk when the opportunity arises.”

The Chennai crowd really got behind the India A team too. If the first one-day player had 200 spectators, it only grew, both in numbers and noise, until about 2,000 people attended to watch the home side pull off a 3-0 sweep. They cheered especially loudly every time Thakur came in and picked up a wicket. Chants of “CSK, CSK” echoed through the stadium whenever Gaikwad produced a good piece of field work or whenever he hit those pleasant cover drives.
Both players have been on good terms recently with Thakur claiming a four-wicket haul in the opening day one against New Zealand A and Gaikwad taking 108 and 94 against the same opponent in an unofficial Test.
“Obviously I’ve known him for a few years,” Thakur said of Gaikwad. “I really remember someone telling me about him in 2017. Then I saw him do well in the domestic circuit and then India A, and then he got into the CSK lineup. I saw him do so well, and then he his real chance, I mean when he played a full season in the IPL he immediately impressed [scoring 635 runs in 16 innings]. He had played a few games in 2020, but he played a few games in the middle order and opened in one of the games.

“It wasn’t a very friendly stint towards him. But in 2021 he made a mark from game one to the final. He was the top performer for CSK and he actually lived up to everyone’s expectations. It’s good to see when a youngster comes in.” and delivers for the team and immediately makes the mark when lifting the trophy, I’d say – not just in the league stage or knockouts, but to lift the trophy.”

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