ABU DHABI: Indian cricket’s Gen-Next star Ruturaj Gaikwad continued his red hot form with a magnificent century as Chennai Super Kings scored an imposing 189 for 4 against Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League here on Saturday.
Gaikwad struck as many as nine fours and five sixes in his 60-ball 101 not out to make a mockery of Royals’ bowling attack in their 12th round encounter.
Some of his shots in the off-side region would be remembered for times to come.
Ravindra Jadeja (32 not out off 15 balls) scythed trough the Royals attack at the back-end as CSK added 55 runs in only 3.4 overs.
In fact, in the final over, Jadeja faced four deliveries, leaving Gaikwad with two deliveries and he pulled Mustafizur Rahman off the final delivery to complete the coveted landmark.
For the Royals, leg-spinner Rahul Tewatia (3/39 in 4 overs) was the most successful bowler but his joy of getting three scalps was spoilt by Gaikwad with two back-to-back sixes — one over long-off and other into the sightscreen.
The sixes over mid-wicket off left-arm seamers Akash Singh and Mustafizur were delightful as it landed at least 20 yards behind the ropes into the grass banks.
The Punekar is not someone who is muscular but a “strong core” (according to him) and stable base allows him to maintain shape while going for the big shots as Royals found out on the day.
The manner in which he came down the track and lofted seamer Chetan Sakariya for an inside-out one-bounce boundary made it look as if he was tackling a spinner with enough time at his disposal.
There were a lot of boundaries in the arc between cover and mid-off region as his driving was majestic.
Gaikwad’s sequence of scores since resumption of IPL is 88, 38, 30, 45 and now 101 not out.
There hasn’t been a single failure so far and his partnerships with Faf du Plessis (25) has been the cornerstone of CSK’s good batting performance.
That none of their retired stars like Suresh Raina, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu, all IPL heavyweights in their own rights, haven’t had much contribution with the bat, isn’t affecting them primarily because of du Plessis and Gaikwad’s power-packed starts.
On Saturday, they added 47 for the first wicket while they had conjured up 71 against RCB, 74 against KKR and 75 against SunRisers Hyderabad.