In 2007, cricketer Yuvraj Singh took the cricketing world by storm when he smashed six sixes in a single over off English bowler Stuart Broad.
Now, imagine hitting seven sixes in a single over.
That’s exactly what 25-year-old cricketer Ruturaj Gaikwad did a few weeks ago, representing Maharashtra in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. In a world record feat, the batsman – who also represents the Chennai Super Kings franchise in the IPL – scored a whopping 43 runs in a single over.
Was it mind-boggling? “Yes, that’s the right word,” says Ruturaj, during a conversation at Chennai’s Mount Road Social recently, “I feel special. I was quite busy with the other matches, so I just haven’t had a chance to watch it again and relive it, but I’m thankful for all the love and appreciation that it got me. I realise I’ve done something special – which I have not dreamt of at all – and it is overwhelming.”
He might belong to the classical league of batsmen, but Ruturaj has proved in recent times that he can be a big-hitter as well. “Six-hitting is a difficult skill; that’s why there’s more demand for finishers in this era. It’s one of those things where if you execute it well, you’ll be praised, else you’ll come under scrutiny. You have to be confident in the way you approach it, and practise throughout the off-season,” he explains.
Despite playing for Maharashtra in the local cricketing circuit, Ruturaj is quite a popular name in Chennai as well: since 2018, he has been with the Chennai Super Kings and was, in fact, among the three players retained by the franchise along with MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja ahead of last year’s IPL auctions. His tryst with Chennai has not only resulted in a newfound love for the podi dosa and a fascination for actor Rajinikanth, with whom he’s conversed a couple of times, but also several new learnings as a cricketer. “Thanks to my time here, I observed the things that international players who have had a lot of success follow. There was lots of security when I played for this franchise; I would be able to perform freely and not come under pressure.”
So, what is the secret behind this hugely popular and successful franchise? Ruturaj reasons, “It stands out because there is not one guy or group talking negatively about you. Everyone, from the coach to the support staff, are always backing you and showing faith in your abilities. They see only the positives and not the negatives.”
Of course, one of the other reasons that Ruturaj – or Rutu, as he is fondly called – loves the franchise is due to the presence of MS Dhoni. For Ruturaj, the fact that his cricketing idol mentors him on the field and indulges in a playstation game off the field is the stuff of dreams. “I can proudly say that it [my relationship with Dhoni] has grown a lot. We mostly have a conversation about the match in the team bus post an IPL game. He has always been welcoming anyone from the team to his hotel room to discuss things, not just about cricket but also other issues.”
What’s that one biggest lesson he has learnt from Dhoni? “He always emphasises on is to stay neutral as much as possible, and not have an up and down graph during success or failure. He also encourages us to play with freedom and lays special emphasis on the time off cricket.”
Up next, Ruturaj will be busy with the Ranji Trophy and is also looking forward to continuing his rich form with the men in yellow for the next season of IPL. “Whenever I wear the yellow jersey, it comes with a lot of responsibility, as several great cricketers have represented this franchise.”