Chennai Super Kings opening batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad revealed the chat with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, which changed his thought process and helped him focus more on the game. Gaikwad, who slammed consecutive half-centuries for CSK in their last three games, didn’t have a best of start of his IPL career with two ducks in first three matches.

The 2020 season was the first time in tournament’s history when CSK failed to qualify for the Play-offs. After strings of poor shows in the initial phase in the season, led to CSK’s elimination from the group stage, however, they bounced back in the tournament in the later stage and Gaikwad played a huge role in that.

The opening batsman talked about his debut match in IPL match against Mumbai Indians, where he departed for a duck.

“I knew the challenges lying ahead in the MI game, and I had prepared to face the likes of Boult, [Jasprit] Bumrah and [James] Pattinson. But I think my dismissal kind of set the tone and we could never recover, getting bowled out for 110 odd [114 for 9],” Ruturaj Gaikwad told Sportstar.

“I was blaming myself for getting out off the new ball and being unable to give the team the start. It reflected in the field. I never let a ball slip through the legs or drop a regulation catch, but it happened in the field. It reflected in the field that my confidence was low.”

The 23-year old revealed how MS Dhoni’s words gave him the confidence that brought a massive change in his thought process.

“Dhoni walked up to me and asked me if I was under pressure. He said, ‘We don’t want to pressurise you, but we have expectations from you. All I want to tell you is you are going to play the next three games without any doubt, whether you score a run or not. Try and enjoy these games and not think about performance,” Gaikwad said.

“He told me not to worry about ups and downs and to enjoy the performance. After that chat, my thought process changed. Till then, I was desperately thinking about stuff like when will I get my first boundary in the IPL or when will I have my first impact, even with a 15-20 run cameo.”

“But after that conversation, it was a drastic change. I remember during that RCB game, I was only thinking about contributing to the team’s cause in that situation. I think the captain sensed my frame of mind, changed my thought process, and freed me up,” Gaikwad concluded.

The CSK opener finished the season with 204 runs in the 6 games at an average of 51.