Asian Games 2023: Ruturaj Gaikwad’s Team India Face Nepal In Quarterfinals On Tuesday, Captain Takes Inspiration From Chennai Super Kings Skipper MS Dhoni Ruturaj Gaikwad. (Source: X)

It’s official now, the Indian men’s cricket team will make their debut in the Asian Games 2023 with a quarterfinal clash against record-breaking Nepal in Hangzhou on Tuesday. Ruturaj Gaikwad-led Indian squad will be seen in action in the first quarterfinal match of the men’s cricket event at the 19th Asian Games.

Chennai Super Kings opener Ruturaj Gaikwad, having absorbed invaluable lessons from cricket icon Mahendra Singh Dhoni, asserted on Monday that he would rely on his distinctive leadership style while captaining the Indian men’s team in their debut Asian Games 2023 cricket campaign. India are pegged as a favorite for another gold, particularly after the triumph of the women’s team last week.

Gaikwad, a pivotal player for Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL), emphasized his desire to allow players the liberty to be expressive on the field.

“I got to learn a lot of things from him (Dhoni) but every person has a different style. His style is different, his personality is different and my personality is a bit different,” Gaikwad told the media in Hangzhou ahead of India’s first game against Nepal on Tuesday.

“I will try to be myself and not really look at what he usually does. Obviously, yes you have to pick out some things which he does really well, how he handles situations and how he handles particular players during a match.

“Obviously, these are (a) few things I really took from him, but I would like to lead the way I want to. I just want the players to express themselves and give how much ever freedom that I can,” Gaikwad, who was the second-highest run-scorer for CSK in IPL 2023 with 590 runs in 16 matches with 3 fifties, said.

India’s coach VVS Laxman highlighted the novel experience of playing cricket in China and termed it a significant opportunity for the team, emphasizing the distinctive environment and the pride associated with participating in the Asian Games 2023.

“It is a much different setup. We (would) have not even thought that we will come and play cricket in China. It is a great opportunity for the entire team. Participating in Asian Games is a big opportunity and a matter of great pride for all these players. I am really looking forward to this tournament,” Laxman said on the eve of India’s quarterfinal match against Nepal.

Here are the fixtures of the quarter draw. The next leg of Men’s Cricket in the Asian Games is promising to be super exciting!#AsianGames
— AsianCricketCouncil (@ACCMedia1) October 2, 2023

Gaikwad conveyed the team’s collective eagerness to secure a gold medal and their exposure to the life and struggles of other athletes in the Games’ village has instilled in them a deeper sense of pride and realization of the specialty of representing the country. Gaikwad expressed that witnessing fellow athletes in diverse sports categories like badminton, tennis, and hockey compete was exhilarating and filled the team with immense national pride.

“Coming to the Asian Games, everyone is eager to win the gold for the country and stand up on the podium. In cricket, we have the World Cup, the IPL and domestic tournaments. We are used to that kind of environment and situations. But coming here and going to the village, we really got to know about the athletes — what kinds of struggle they go through,” Gaikwad said.

“Hardly (in) 2-3 years or four years (that) they get an opportunity to play for the country and represent it. We took a lot of pride from yesterday’s visit (to the Games’ village) and obviously got to know how special it is — obviously we do know but it just reflected a little bit more to represent the country.”

The Indian skipper added that the cricketers took a lot of pleasure watching other athletes in action. “It was a really great chance to see our country play across various sports such as badminton, tennis or even hockey. It was a matter of great pride. We enjoyed a lot cheering for our team,” he said.

In other Asian Games 2023 quarterfinal matches, Pakistan will take on Hong Kong, Sri Lanka will be up against Afghanistan while Bangladesh will be facing Malaysia. The Nepal cricket team had face Rohit Sharma’s Team India in the ODI format recently at the Asia Cup 2023 in which Nepal lost by 10 wickets in a rain-hit contest.

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