Ruturaj Gaikwad has played under the captaincy of MS Dhoni in Chennai Super Kings for four years now and has picked up a few things as far as leadership skills go.
Having learnt a lot from the legendary cricketer, Gaikwad will be relying on his own leadership style when he makes India captaincy debut during the Asian Games in Hangzhou (China).
Thanks to their superior ranking in men’s T20I, India will start their campaign in the quarterfinals of the competition on Tuesday and start as the favourites to win the gold medal.
“I got to learn a lot of things from him (Dhoni) but every person has a different style. His style is different, his personality is different and my personality is a bit different,” Gaikwad said ahead of India’s opening clash.
“I will try to be myself and not really look at what he usually does. Obviously, yes you have to pick out some things which he does really well, how he handles situations and how he handles particular players during a match. Obviously, these are (a) few things I really took from him, but I would like to lead the way I want to. I just want the players to express themselves and give how much ever freedom that I can,” he added.
The Indian women’s team earlier had clinched a historic gold on Asian Games when they beat Sri Lanka in the final last week.
“Coming to the Asian Games, everyone is eager to win the gold for the country and stand up on the podium,” Gaikwad said.
The Indian cricket team is staying in the Games village like other athletes.
“In cricket, we have the World Cup, the IPL and domestic tournaments. We are used to that kind of environment and situations. But coming here and going to the village, we really got to know about the athletes what kinds of struggle they go through,” Gaikwad said.
“Hardly (in) 2-3 years or four years (that) they get an opportunity to play for the country and represent it. We took a lot of pride from yesterday’s visit (to the Games’ village) and obviously got to know how special it is obviously we do know but it just reflected a little bit more to represent the country,” he added.
The Indian cricketers have been watching other athletes from their country taking part in various events.
“It was a really great chance to see our country play across various sports such as badminton, tennis or even hockey. It was a matter of great pride. We enjoyed a lot cheering for our team,” Gaikwad said.
The dimensions of the ground used for cricket matches in Asia Cup have been in focus with Nepal breaking several records during a group match against Mongolia earlier.
“Everyone, throughout their careers, be it domestic or anything (else), has gone through such dimensions on the cricket ground and I think they are all used to it,” Gaikwad said.
“Growing up, usually playing on these kind of grounds and even (in) local cricket, many games, more than 100 games on these kind of grounds. I am sure everyone is used to it and will adapt,” he added.
VVS Laxman, who has travelled with the squad as their coach talked about the unique experience of playing cricket in China.
“It is a much different setup,” Laxman said. “We (would) have not even thought that we will come and play cricket in China. It is a great opportunity for the entire team.
“Participating in Asian Games is a big opportunity and a matter of great pride for all these players. I am really looking forward to this tournament,” he added.