“Last Captain Was Cool But This Guy…”: CSK Coach Compares MS Dhoni, Ruturaj Gaikwad

Chennai Super Kings captain Ruturaj Gaikwad is cut from the same cloth as MS Dhoni and it is unfair to term the former “slow” while batting, said head coach Stephen Fleming here on Saturday. Gaikwad, who replaced Dhoni as the CSK captain at the beginning of this IPL, has had a mixed start to his leadership stint losing two away games and winning three at home. But at the same time, the 27-year-old Gaikwad has been criticised for “slow” batting.

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The right-handed opening batter has so far garnered 155 runs in five matches with a strike rate of 117.42.

“There’s no difference. He’s as cool as it gets. I know the last captain was pretty cool. But this guy is cut from the same cloth, so that’s rubbed through,” Fleming said when asked if he had any discussion with Gaikwad in terms of differentiating between his leadership and his batting.

“He is such an impressive young man around his game and what he needs to do. He’s been, I think, unfairly put into a bracket where he’s been called slow. But you have to have context to some of these stats,” Fleming told the media during CSK’s training session at the Wankhede Stadium.

“We know that it’s a bit of a Bollywood movie, sometimes getting these things up onto the screen. But he’s fine. He’s playing conditions well. The last game (CSK vs KKR) was a great example of how a leader plays, and there’s class as well. I have absolutely no doubt about Ruturaj,” Fleming added.

Fleming clarified that appointing Ruturaj as skipper is a long-term call and not a makeshift decision by the five-time winners.

“I hope so. That’s the plan, and so far it’s worked well. The transition has been really smooth. He’s judged by wins but we judge it differently. His leadership around the team is top-class. I would imagine it would be hopefully for many years like the last captain,” Fleming added.

The former New Zealand captain said CSK are the benefactors of the love Dhoni has got from fans which, at times, has been overwhelming.

“It’s magnificent, to be honest. It is truly astounding, the love that… Let’s be honest, the love that India has for MS Dhoni, and we are benefactors of that,” Fleming said.

“The team, without (a) doubt, feels pride when they walk out to an away game and there’s a large amount of yellow. If not all yellow, it’s in some cases, overwhelming.” “But we are under no illusions that what has created it and who has created it. We’re very proud of him and his involvement with the side. We look at it as a real honour that people will come out and support him, and if it’s secondary, then the team. We’re both very closely linked,” Fleming added.

Fleming said a two-month dose of IPL every year has become contagious but the league must keep finding ways to evolve.

“In terms of fan following, naturally it has grown. The skills of the players is evolving. Batting in particular has evolved at a huge rate, in particular the last five years,” he said.

“The challenge of the IPL, from a skill point of view, is how the bowlers can even the game up a little bit. The two bouncers (per over rule) is one. Maybe we need to keep looking at other ways to do that.” “The fact that it becomes intoxicating two months of cricket and fandom and support, it’s a wonderful injection for cricket. So how can you not love it? How can it not be contagious?,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mumbai Indians’ Mohammad Nabi said getting the team combination right was one of the key factors for the five-time winners to get back to winning ways.

“The plans from the bowling and batting groups are going really well which is why we won the last two games. The team combination was good for the last two matches,” he said.

Nabi said the nature of the pitch at the Wankhede Stadium makes an off-spinner’s job tougher.

“The conditions at Wankhede as a spinner are really tough to bowl as an off-spinner. Leg-spinners have a lot of varieties but as an off-spinner is tougher to bowl here,” he said.

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