Exclusive | 'A Proud Feeling': Ruturaj Gaikwad On Winning Gold At Asian Games

Exclusive | 'A Proud Feeling': Ruturaj Gaikwad On Winning Gold At Asian Games

Ruturaj Gaikwad Gaikwad contributed with scores of 25 against Nepal and an unbeaten 40 against Bangladesh

Gaurav KadamUpdated: Saturday, October 14, 2023, 05:02 PM IST
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Exclusive | 'A Proud Feeling': Ruturaj Gaikwad On Winning Gold At Asian Games | PTI Photo

In their debut at the Asian Games, the Indian men's cricket team clinched the gold medal after their final match against Afghanistan was called off due to persistent rain. Captain Ruturaj Gaikwad, reflecting on this remarkable achievement during an exclusive conversation with The Free Press Journal, conveyed his profound sense of pride in the victory. "It was a proud feeling. What made it even more special was the fact that in cricket, we're usually presented with trophies rather than medals," he emphasised.

Put into bat, Afghanistan was 112 for 5 in 18.2 overs when rain halted the proceedings at the Zhejiang University of Technology Cricket Field. As the higher-ranked team, India was declared the winner. Gaikwad expressed his dismay at the turn of events, revealing that his team had been confident about clinching the victory. "It was truly disheartening. We were highly optimistic about winning the finals, especially considering the situation we were in when the match was halted. Scoring the winning runs would have been the icing on the cake," he lamented.

Gaikwad, who contributed with scores of 25 against Nepal and an unbeaten 40 against Bangladesh, said it was challenging to bat in China. "The pitches predominantly favoured the bowlers, posing a significant challenge for the batsmen due to their slow and turning nature," he acknowledged.

Recognising the substantial advantage held by his team, Gaikwad underscored the wealth of experience in competitive cricket, including the Indian Premier League (IPL) and international matches, possessed by the Indian squad. "The exposure to IPL and international cricket undoubtedly provided us with an edge. The team was brimming with confidence, and I, personally, felt well-prepared for this tournament," he affirmed.

Due to the relatively youthful composition of the squad, forging strong bonds was not a concern, according to the right-handed opener. Elaborating further, he explained, "Right from our initial camp in Bangalore, it was evident that everyone in the team connected exceptionally well. Whether it was sharing every meal with all 15 players or spending quality time together during various outings, I can confidently say that it cultivated a fantastic and harmonious atmosphere."

'Meeting the PM is always an extraordinary experience'

Upon returning to India, the team had the privilege of meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an experience Gaikwad described as "special." "Meeting the Prime Minister is always an extraordinary experience, and it was particularly special after securing a gold medal," he expressed. 

'Wicket at the MCA Stadium will favour both bowlers and batsmen'

Talking about the ongoing ICC World Cup 2023, the batter expressed his fervent support for Team India while keeping his fingers crossed for their success. Being a Punekar, he said it was a great opportunity for the city to host World Cup matches after a long time. Evaluating the playing conditions, he said, "I believe the wicket at the MCA Stadium will favour both bowlers and batsmen. The pitch typically offers support to fast bowlers, with substantial pace and bounce. Consequently, I'm eagerly looking forward to witnessing thrilling and highly competitive matches." 

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