Opener Ruturaj Gaikwad's role was instrumental in India A's 4-1 50-over series triumph against the West Indies A in the Caribbean and the Maharashtra player says applying himself better and being patient were keys to his success. The 22-year-old Pune-born Gaikwad had scores of 3, 85,20 and 99 in the series, two of which were match-winning knocks. "In the first match (which he played in the series) I got out early. Then I had discussions with coaches (Paras Mhambrey and Sitanshu Kotak). "So, the answer was these wickets are different, they are kind of sticky and have a little bit of extra bounce, so you need to stay on the wicket and grind it out.
"The next match onwards I applied myself a little bit more and was particular about my shot selection and having a little bit of patience (was the key)," Gaikwad told PTI from Pune.
However, the young cricketer, who made his First-Class debut for Maharashtra in 2016 against Jharkhand, rues on missing two hundreds after coming close to achieve the distinction. "I also missed on two hundreds. In the last match (of the series) I got out on 99. Was feeling a little bit good that I was going to score my first hundred outside India and also was little bit hurried to do that. I think in that hurryI lost my wicket," said Gaikwad.
Gaikwad also spent a brief time with former India stalwart Rahul Dravid, when he was part of the India A squad that played against England Lions, and the inputs from the then India A coach also aided him.
"My first tour with India A was against England Lions.I played only one match in the main series but played for the Board President's team and scored a hundred. It was my first series with senior players who have been successful in IPL or domestic cricket. "It was good to be part of that team and had a good learning experience. A chat with Rahul (Dravid) Sir and other support staff (then) helped me going into the Sri Lanka (A)and West Indies (A) series," he added.
Gaikwad had amassed 677 runs in the last eight innings for India A with an average of 112.83 and he looks forward to play for India. "Obviously everyone aims to play for India and even my aim is the same. I am confident that I will make it one day. I just want to concentrate on scoring runs each day, whether it is for Maharashtra or for India A, and try and impress the selectors as much as I can," he explained.
Gaikwad, who had earlier hit two blistering hundreds against Sri Lanka A (125 not out and 187 not out in Belgaum, also spoke about the role of Maharashtra coach Surendra Bhave, a former national selector. "Bhave Sir is technically so sound and makes sure that we improve in each and every match. He expects me to score runs in each and every match. He also has guided me technically, which has helped me," he signed off.