BENGALURU: In the first six deliveries Ruturaj Gaikwad faced at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Sunday night, he managed two runs. Nudging, poking and missing, he struggled to find rhythm before a short ball from Kagiso Rabada was pulled over mid-wicket boundary. But the spark was doused three deliveries later, with a slow off-cutter from pacer Lungi Ngidi.
The 25-year-old played the shot early and handed Dwaine Pretorius a sitter at mid-wicket. It wasn’t the first time the batsman from Maharashtra faltered in the five-match T20 series against South Africa.
Barring the 57 in Visakhapatnam, Gaikwad doesn’t have much to show in his T20 international career, which is eight matches old.
About 11 months ago, Gaikwad earned his India T20 cap against Sri Lanka on the strength of his Indian Premier League show. In this series, the go-to man for Chennai Super Kings, was presented with an opportunity to strengthen his position in the Indian dressing room, but his performance raises a question or two.
With a clutch of Indian stars either taking a break or injured, Gaikwad should have made it count in this series but numbers tell the true story. Having opened in all five innings of this series, Gaikwad managed 96 runs (9×4; 5×6) averaging 19.20.
Gaikwad will have his back to the wall, considering his dismissal pattern in this series. While pacers have had his number in all the matches, Gaikwad has struggled with deliveries outside off-stump. In the previous match in Rajkot on Friday night too Gaikwad was dismissed by Ngidi.
He was out on five, with a back of the length delivery nicked to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock. In Cuttack, venue of the second match, Gaikwad returned to the dugout in the opening over, mistiming and slicing Kagiso Rabada to backward point.
While the riches, runs and applause have been earned in the IPL, where does Gaikwad stand in a national team perspective? Head coach Rahul Dravid though made it clear that he wasn’t assessing any player based on the performance in one series.
While there is no doubting his talent and pedigree, when the regulars like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav return, Gaikwad will find it tough to make the playing line-up.