After setbacks in the first two matches of the South Africa T20I series, Ruturaj Gaikwad scored his maiden international fifty in the third game in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday. Gaikwad went after the express pace of Anrich Nortje in the fifth over of the India innings, hammering four fours on way to making 57 off 35 deliveries. After setting up India’s 48-run win, Gaikwad said that one was bound to have “really bad days” in T20, but he had tried to remain mentally consistent after an unremarkable Indian Premier League season.
“I had a really good last year. So obviously a lot of people come with a lot of expectations when you have such a great year, in IPL and in domestic cricket,” Gaikwad said. “In this IPL, the wickets were slightly bowler-friendly, there were not many flat wickets, there were two-paced wickets, the ball was turning, there was some swing. So in the IPL in three-four games I got out to good balls, and some dismissals, a good shot went into the fielder’s hands.”
Gaikwad had impressed with 635 runs at a strike-rate of 136.26 in IPL 2021 but his tally came down to 368 in IPL 2022, with a strike-rate of 126.46. After KL Rahul’s injury ruled him out of the South Africa T20Is, Gaikwad got his opportunity at the top of the order, but managed 23 and 1 in Delhi and Cuttack.
“It is part and parcel of T20 cricket. You are going to have off days and really bad days. It is a matter of staying consistent mentally and trusting your process. Coming into this series, I felt the first two wickets were slightly on the tacky side, so coming here, good wicket, I played my game.
“It was about keeping a positive mindset. It was slightly sticky for the first couple of overs, so we were thinking that we should not lose a wicket, and then we should try to maximise the powerplay from the fourth over onwards. Luckily, it worked out for me as well as Ishan (Kishan).”
Gaikwad cut, charged and clipped Nortje for fours but also had to weave inside the line of a bouncer that grazed his helmet grille and flew past the ’keeper. “As I said, we were looking to maximise and so I kept taking my chances,” Gaikwad told Yuzvendra Chahal on the BCCI website. “I wasn’t thinking that I’ve already got two-three boundaries in the over. It was just that if it was in my zone, I would go for the boundary. I was looking to continue an aggressive mindset.”