Wasim Jaffer has spoken highly of Ruturaj Gaikwad following the 25-year-old’s blazing 57-run knock off 35 deliveries in India’s third T20I against South Africa on Tuesday. The cricketer-turned-analyst said that, given the pressure of not scoring too many runs in the first two T20Is and the ever-rising competition for the opening spot, it was a “brilliant performance” from the batter.
Gaikwad, who has only got a chance in the five-match series only because KL Rahul‘s injury, scored 23 (15) and one off four balls in Delhi and Cuttack. India lost both games, prompting calls for his snubbing. But top-scoring in Vizag and building a 97-run opening partnership with Ishan Kishan (54 off 35), which laid the foundation for a much-needed 48-run win, helped in shutting down some of the criticism.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Jaffer hailed Kishan, Gaikwad and Hardik Pandya (31* off 21) but reserved special praise for the Chennai Super Kings batter. He said:
“It’s very important to put up a big score when batting first because we lost the last two matches after batting first. You’ve to praise Ruturaj Gaikwad for the way he batted after not being able to get good scores in the first two matches. Ishan Kishan was outstanding. He has been very consistent in this series, scored his second fifty. That partnership, scoring 97 runs in 10 overs and forming that base for the other batters was very important.”
“India lost the plot a bit between the 13th and 18th overs with back-to-back wickets and dropped catches, got a bit lucky too. But Hardik Pandya’s finish took it to still a really good score of 180. But Ruturaj Gaikwad deserves more praise; he was under pressure, playing his third game without many runs, with a lot of people sitting behind him to take his spot, a brilliant performance.”
This was Gaikwad’s first international half-century. Although a place in the 2022 T20 World Cup main squad is still unlikely, two more good knocks in the series could help him stake his claim for the T20I opening spot in the long run.
“If you lose three wickets in the powerplay, you fall too behind in the match” – Wasim Jaffer
Jaffer also talked about the impact of the pitch and India finally breaking a fourth-wicket South African partnership – something that’s been troubling them since last year’s Test series in the Rainbow Nation. He said the pitch in Vizag wasn’t too difficult and the visitors’ struggles were due to their powerplay batting.
The former opener also lauded leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who has had a difficult series as well, for taking the fourth wicket – skipper Temba Bavuma – and turning the game India’s way. Jaffer remarked:
“I felt the last match’s pitch was more difficult in Cuttack, it was a two-paced one. This pitch was still a bit better. But if you lose three wickets in the powerplay, you fall too behind in the match and require a big partnership from players like van der Dussen, Klaasen and David Miller. And if that doesn’t happen either, then it gets very difficult. And that fourth South African wicket if very important because that tends to create problems for us (smiles). Yuzvendra Chahal’s comeback in that regard is praiseworthy.”
Chahal ended the match with a brilliant spell of 20/3 after picking up just one wicket across the first two T20Is. He’ll look to build on the performance in the fourth T20I in Rajkot, which will begin at 7:00 pm IST on Friday, 17 June.