Kaushik Gandhi: Rise and emergence

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Kaushik Gandhi
Kaushik Gandhi of Tamil Nadi. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Kaushik Gandhi’s 2016 has been nothing short of a fairy-tale story. An incredible rise to the top of the Tamil Nadu team was possible all because of his performance with the Tuti Patriots’. The inaugural season of the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) saw Kaushik score an incredible 366 runs at an average of 45.75 with a strike rate of 140.76.

The statistics do not show only consistency, but also incredible power and game-changing abilities.

A strong show in the Ranji Trophy:

His 366 runs were a major contribution to the Patriots finishing the TNPL as winners. Kaushik turned out to play for the Tamil Nadu Ranji team to amass 785 runs at an average of 60.38, an average that the likes of Virat Kohli would be proud of. He finished as the second highest run-getter for his State, only bettered by the opener Abhinav Mukund.

It has been a surprise and shock that the State could utilise him to the fullest after he turned 27 last year.
“The funny thing about cricket is, no matter how good 2016 was, if we don’t win in 2017 it would end up spoiling the entire year,” he told ESPNcricinfo ahead of Tamil Nadu’s Ranji Trophy semi-final against Mumbai.

Tamil Nadu went down against a rampant Mumbai side, whose all-round display was much more effective than TN’s. Kaushik scored 50 runs in the first innings and followed it up with nine not out in the second.

Tamil Nadu, have to wait a year to showcase their mettle in the Ranji Trophy and Kaushik’s form would be an aid to their display. The next assignment that Kaushik had was the Vijay Hazare Trophy, an annual one-day trophy where the states compete against each other.

He was Tamil Nadu’s second highest run-getter in the league phase of the tournament- with 245 runs under his belt. He scored an incredible hundred on a tough pitch against Himachal Pradesh in the group stages. It has been an incredible wait for the 27-year-old after he made his debut for the State as early as in 2011-12.

The right-hander found himself in and out of the team in regular intervals with the top scorer of TNPL not getting more than one chance at a time until the 2014-15 season. The 2014-15 and the 2015-16 season saw the right-hander play more than a game at a time. He did not blame his selection on the committee but was very critical of himself not making use of the opportunities.

Tamil Nadu’s Ranji team has always boasted a heavy batting line-up with the likes of S Badrinath, M Vijay, Abhinav Mukund, Dinesh Karthik and KB Arun Karthik. He made small but impacting progress towards being included in the team whenever the senior players were injured or called for national duty.

These opportunities eventually made him the batsmen he is now. Consistency has always been an essential skill in Kaushik’s arsenal, with his consistency leading him to a State call-up. The right-hander’s first challenge was to break the two games-a-season unwanted pattern he had created last time out.

Pre-Season Training

Pre-season training and nets might either make or break a player, and in this scenario, it has helped in taking Kaushik to the next level. Under the able supervision of Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Kaushik has acquired a rigorous work ethic that translated into strong scores in the middle of the park. The difference that the camp has on the Tamil Nadu team is clearly visible with the batsmen able to spend more time in the middle.

Kaushik looks forward to the net sessions and the practise session more passionately than the match itself. It is difficult for the right-hander to face the Tamil Nadu’s pace trio of T Natarajan, Ashwin Crist and K Vignesh, due to the intensity with which they bowl at the right-hander.

Just like any other batsmen, he too does not like to get dismissed to these three guys, which ultimately gives him the confidence to get through the difficult of sessions during the Ranji campaign. A system such as this, according to the 27-year-old will make the batsmen more disciplined throughout the season. A dismissal for any batsmen would mean a long wait before the batsman gets his opportunity to bat again.

The difference between this season and the previous seasons is that the Tamil Nadu batsmen ensure to play close to the body and leave the ball outside off stump with due respect to good deliveries.

The trio try their level hard to make the batsmen play which could provide room for a dismissal or two. These are the boxes that the coach wants the players to tick.

Tamil Nadu- A side full of stroke players

Tamil Nadu’s team has always consisted of stroke players, and it was always difficult for a batsman like Kaushik to be the stabilising factor for the State team. Kaushik started off his 2016-17 campaign at no 6 and no seven which was reflected in his dismal performance of 7 runs in the entire match.

He was always under pressure ahead of the game against Railways with his record not aiding his case. The turnaround was needed and in quick time too, Tamil Nadu captain Mukund decided to promote the right-hander to the No 3 slot. This decision was coined as the Midas touch that changed Tamil Nadu’s season.

Kaushik’s attitude is moulded right from the Former Indian Cricketer Rahul Dravid’s attitude. The down-to-earth Kaushik always considers the partnerships more important than his individual scores. Very often in his interviews, he mentions the partnership of 126 runs with the captain Mukund instead of referring to his personal score of 42 which was crucial in setting up a key victory for the Southerners.

His form began to grow as the season progressed with an impeccable 157 runs in a crucial encounter against Madhya Pradesh. He followed his magnificent display against Madhya Pradesh with scores of 164 and 202 against Punjab and Gujarat respectively.

It was not always easier for the 27-year-old to get accustomed to the varying pitch and climatic conditions opposed to the home advantage of Chepauk. It allowed the right-hander to discover new facets in his game. It was a not a one coach effort which helped the right-hander to get back in form.

Monty Desai, the coach of Tuti Patriots’, was of considerable help to Kaushik’s confidence and his form leading into the domestic season. TNPL’s leading run-scorer admitted that it was quite shocking for him to digest, as he is more of a conventional batsman than a striking T20 batsman.

He further said to ESPNcricinfo “I worked on a few particular shots like the uppercut. I tend to learn fast, so that helped me. Monty Desai gave a lot of very good ideas on when to launch, how to play the situation. In this era, I should be able to play a T20 today, a 50-over game tomorrow and a five-day match the day after. That adaptability has to come in naturally.”

A major contributor for his on-field bloom would be his relaxed state of mind just like his fellow Tamil Nadu batsman M Vijay. He has learnt how to switch off during his downtime and not sweat over every missed delivery.
This helped him to get settled much quicker to play a long inning for the state of Tamil Nadu.

His ability to stroke the bad deliveries to the boundary and leaving the good one equally is one of the indicators for a sound technique.

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