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Unlike Jadeja, the 27-year-old Ruturaj Gaikwad had a smoother start to his captaincy stint with two wins at home upfront. But, he has now been handed a reality check with back-to-back losses in the last two matches on the road.

Unlike Jadeja, the 27-year-old Ruturaj Gaikwad had a smoother start to his captaincy stint with two wins at home upfront. But, he has now been handed a reality check with back-to-back losses in the last two matches on the road.
| Photo Credit: ANI

On the eve of the season, Ruturaj Gaikwad was handed one of the most challenging jobs in the IPL after being named captain of the Chennai Super Kings. No team is built around the aura of one player like CSK is with its former leader M.S. Dhoni and it is not easy to fill his shoes.

The last time Super Kings attempted to move forward by appointing Ravindra Jadeja as captain in 2022, the experiment ended in disappointment after just eight games. This time, in Ruturaj, the team found a young player with leadership experience and subtly groomed him for the job over two years.

Unlike Jadeja, the 27-year-old had a smoother start to his captaincy stint with two wins at home upfront. But, he has now been handed a reality check with back-to-back losses in the last two matches on the road. After the short honeymoon period, Ruturaj faces his first real test and needs to find a way to arrest the slide quickly.

And it will have to start with his form as Ruturaj, the batter, has had an inconsistent start in the four outings with no half-century. In 2021 and 2023, his contributions at the top played a vital role in the team’s wins.

However, this year the opener’s strike-rate has dipped alarmingly to 118.91 from 147.5 in 2023 and the lack of quick runs in the PowerPlay was one of the main reasons for the twin defeats. Oppositions have also exploited his weakness against left-arm pacers, who dismissed him in the first three matches, and he quickly needs to sort it out.

Even tactically, the team missed a trick or two in Friday’s game against Sunrisers Hyderabad. On a pitch where cutters and taking pace off the deliveries was the way to go, the team did not get off-spinner Moeen Ali to open the attack despite having two left-handers at the wicket. Even with four spin options, Ruturaj’s decision to hold them back was also strange, especially when the pacers were being taken to the cleaners.

Task cut out

As CSK returns to the comfort of its home ground for the game against Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday, Ruturaj has his task cut out as a batter and skipper to get the defending champion’s campaign back on track.

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