For the first time in the competition’s history, Ruturaj Gaikwad guided Maharashtra to the Vijay Hazare Trophy finals while displaying exceptional batting prowess. He led the team from the front, scored many tonnes, and emerged as the best player for his side despite returning from an injury and missing several games in the competition.
Gaikwad competed against Saurashtra in the finals at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, showcasing his talents and scorching form. Gaikwad played a cool-headed knock despite the fact that the pitch did not favor either the batters or the bowlers. Gaikwad managed to score a half-century after a sluggish start, turning it into a quick hundred.
Maharashtra scored 248/9 as a result of his knock, but they lost the summit match and finished as runners-up. Ruturaj Gaikwad, who was named Player of the Series for scoring 660 runs in only five innings at an astounding average of 220, spoke candidly about the defeat following the game. He also discussed the form that helped Maharashtra advance to the historic finals.
“I’m just trying to enjoy the game and stay in the present, looking to give good starts and then convert them into big hundreds. I’m just trying to become as consistent as possible. It was important for me to get back well from injury. Had to lead from the front, being a senior player and an experienced player,” Gaikwad was quoted as saying by News 18.
Maharashtra struggled at 75/2 in the first innings, with Gaikwad sitting on 34*. He completed 95 deliveries before reaching his half-century. However, after turning fifty, he developed a lot of confidence and regularly set records. He finished his century in style with two back-to-back sixes, demonstrating his status as Maharashtra’s main man. When discussing the innings, he said:
“The kind of bowling they had, and the lines/lengths they bowled, it was challenging and I was enjoying it. Had to make sure that I’m staying calm. There was a lot of difference in the pitch during the second innings. If we got the same conditions, things could have been different. After 25 overs of our innings, the pitch eased out but we were always behind the game due to that start. We could have got to 300 or 320-330 if the surface was better from the start.”
As the game went on, the pitch at the Narendra Modi Stadium grew batter-friendly. However, the Maharashtra batters found the first half of the first inning to be exceedingly challenging. The bowlers from Saurashtra did not take many wickets, but they also did not give up many runs. With the help of Sheldon Jackson’s match-winning unbeaten century and Chirag Jani’s hat-trick, the Jaydev Unadkat-led team won spectacularly.
“Obviously, toss played a huge factor as we were always behind in the game. It was a 70-30 advantage with the toss but credit to the Saurashtra bowlers, they bowled really well. Still, 248 in the first innings was a good total. You can lose wickets upfront sometimes on these pitches but I’m proud of my team for today and all through the tournament. We have a young team, many players are playing their first final and hopefully, they will all learn from this,” Gaikwad concluded.