Chennai Super Kings (CSK) opener Ruturaj Gaikwad joined CSK in 2019 but he got to make his debut for the franchise in 2020 when the tournament was played in the UAE and thus never played at the Chepauk with the IPL side due to COVID pandemic. He is “waiting for the moment” when CSK return to Chepauk, which is the ground where “it all started” for him.

Since Covid-19 outbreak in 2022, the IPL has been held at only a limited number of venues. In 2020, it took place behind closed doors in the UAE. In 2022, all 74 matches were held in Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata and Ahmedabad. IPL 2023 would return to its classic home-and-away format where every side plays a home and an away game against every other side.

Gaikwad was with the India A side in Chennai for the unofficial ODIs against New Zealand A played a few days back. In a video uploaded by Super Kings on their social media handles, Gaikwad said, “I had seen the atmosphere, I had seen the electrifying noise. I have experienced everything. So, obviously that was going on in mind when I would practice for two days [with India A in Chennai]. I was imagining the crowd and CSK entering the stadium. So actually, I am just waiting for the moment. But the first time when I played here was actually special because I feel this is the place where I started my journey. Coming to CSK and getting to learn a lot of things, getting to know the first experience of what it is at the higher level. So this is the place where it all started.”

Shardul Thakur was also interviewed with Gaikwad and he was full of praise for the opening batsman. “Obviously, I have known him for quite a few years,” he said of Gaikwad. “I actually remember someone telling me about him in 2017. Then, I saw him doing well in the domestic circuit and then India A, and then he came into the CSK set-up. Seeing him do so well, and when he got his real opportunity, I mean when he played a full season in the IPL, he straightaway made a mark. He had played a few games in 2020 but he played a couple of games in the middle order and opened in one of the games.”

“It was not a very kind stint towards him. But, in 2021, he made a mark from game one till the finals. He was the top performer of CSK, and he actually delivered to everyone’s expectations. It’s good to see when a youngster comes and delivers for the team and straightaway makes the mark in lifting the trophy I’d say – not only in the league phase or knockouts but to lift the trophy.”

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