Following Chennai Super Kings (CSK)’s victory over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the 2021 IPL final, CSK coach Stephen Fleming hailed young opener Ruturaj Gaikwad as an “absolute star”.

Gaikwad won the Orange Cap for collecting 635 assists during the Indian Premier League (IPL) season 2021. The 24-year-old was also awarded Player of the Season for his impressive performance.

Gaikwad scored 32 of 27 in the 2021 IPL final against KKR in Dubai, and appeared in the opening stands 61 with Faf du Plessis (86). Thanks to their efforts, CSK posted 192 for 3 orders to win the final 27 times.

Reflecting on Gaikwad’s development within the ranks of CSK, Fleming noted that experts were critical of the young player’s inclusion in the 11th play last year. But CSK’s management supported his ability to the fullest. Speaking at a post-match conference, Fleming said:

“He’s an absolute star indeed in my eyes. When we introduced him last year, people were a bit critical, but we were holding on to him, and we had very high expectations. What we didn’t understand was the impact that COVID would have. We’ve really felt it over the past year, and we’ve been happy Really because he finished the season so well.”

The CSK coach said Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis’ inaugural partnership has gone a long way in the franchise to lift their fourth IPL title. The former New Zealand captain said:

“With him (Ruturaj) and Faf (du Plessis) he scored so many kicks, he’s one of the real reasons we won the IPL. I couldn’t be happier for Rutraj. He’s a fantastic guy, and for a young player his maturity is beyond his years. I can’t speak well. Akbar about Rotoraj and his collaboration with Pfaff, which was crucial.”

While Gaikwad emerged as the top scorer of the IPL 2021, Du Plessis finished just two runs behind him, hitting 633 throws in 16 matches with a hitting rate of 138.2.

“There were a lot of discussions” – CSK coach about rebuilding the franchise

With the mega auction scheduled before IPL 2022, all franchisees will have to literally rebuild their teams from scratch. According to unconfirmed reports, teams will not be allowed to keep more than 3-4 players.

Acknowledging that CSK has already begun discussions about rebuilding the franchise, Fleming explained:

“Yes, we are constantly researching and thinking about what the next year could look like. We take great pride in our philosophies and the way we build our teams. Every other franchise will do that too.”

This tournament was good to look at some talent and also to reaffirm what we are defending and how we are going forward. There were a lot of discussions. Hopefully we can put on another good side and continue the legacy of CSK.”

Aside from the massive auction, two new teams will join the eight existing franchises for the 2022 edition of the competition.

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