The Indian men’s cricket team is set to make its debut in the Asian Games 2023 with a quarterfinal match against Nepal in Hangzhou on Tuesday. Ruturaj Gaikwad is leading the Indian squad in the first quarterfinal match of the men’s cricket event at the 19th Asian Games.
Asian Games 2023
Ruturaj Gaikwad, the opener for Chennai Super Kings, has drawn inspiration from cricket icon Mahendra Singh Dhoni and stated that he will bring his unique leadership style to captain the Indian men’s team in their first Asian Games 2023 cricket campaign. India is considered a favorite for the gold medal, especially following the recent success of the women’s team.
Gaikwad, a key player for Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL), emphasizes his intention to allow players the freedom to express themselves on the field.
“While I learned a lot from Dhoni, each person has their own style and personality. His style and personality are different from mine,” Gaikwad explained during a media interaction in Hangzhou before India’s match against Nepal.
“I will try to be true to myself and not necessarily replicate what he does. Of course, there are certain things I’ve learned from him, like how he handles situations and manages players during a match. I’ve taken those lessons, but I want to lead in my own way. I want the players to express themselves and have as much freedom as possible,” Gaikwad added. He was the second-highest run-scorer for CSK in IPL 2023 with 590 runs in 16 matches, including three fifties.
India’s coach, VVS Laxman, highlighted the unique experience of playing cricket in China and regarded it as a significant opportunity for the team. He emphasized the distinctive environment and the pride associated with participating in the Asian Games 2023.
“It’s a completely different setting. We never imagined that we would be playing cricket in China. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the entire team. Participating in the Asian Games is a huge honor and a matter of great pride for all the players. I’m eagerly looking forward to this tournament,” Laxman stated on the eve of India’s quarterfinal match against Nepal.
Gaikwad expressed the team’s collective determination to secure a gold medal. Their exposure to the lives and challenges of other athletes in the Games’ village has deepened their sense of pride and appreciation for representing their country. Gaikwad mentioned that witnessing athletes from various sports like badminton, tennis, and hockey competing was inspiring and instilled immense national pride in the team.
“When it comes to the Asian Games, everyone is eager to win gold for the country and stand on the podium. In cricket, we have events like the World Cup, IPL, and domestic tournaments, so we’re accustomed to that environment. However, being here in the village and interacting with athletes from other sports, we’ve gained a greater understanding of the struggles they go through,” Gaikwad shared.
“They have only a few opportunities, maybe 2-3 years or four years, to represent the country. Yesterday’s visit to the Games’ village filled us with pride and reinforced how special it is to represent our country.”
Gaikwad added that the cricketers enjoyed watching athletes from various sports in action and took pride in cheering for their fellow Indian teams.
In the other Asian Games 2023 quarterfinal matches, Pakistan will face Hong Kong, Sri Lanka will compete against Afghanistan, and Bangladesh will play against Malaysia. In a recent ODI match at the Asia Cup 2023, Nepal’s cricket team faced Rohit Sharma’s Team India and suffered a 10-wicket defeat in a rain-affected contest.