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IPL 2024: If I can do half of what Conway does, it will be good for CSK, says Rachin Ravindra

Chennai Super Kings’ Rachin Ravindra began his Indian Premier League (IPL) career with a boundary off the first ball.

Within six deliveries, he was on 17 and got out off his 15th ball, having already scored 37. In his next innings, he scored 46 in 20 balls.

This isn’t the first time he has begun a tournament with such a flourish. In the 2023 ODI World Cup held in India, the Kiwi batter hit 123 in his first game, against England, and finished the tournament with two more centuries, scoring 578 runs at an average of 64.22 while striking at over 106.

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Add to that the fact that, barring five T20Is in 2021, he had never played in the top order for New Zealand.

How did the 24-year-old manage to make Indian conditions his own and batting at the top a walk in the park? 

“I guess that’s the thing with cricket and sport in general, things can happen quickly,” Ravindra said.

It helped that he played plenty of cricket during his teenage years in India, practising with his former Wellington and New Zealand A coach, Sriram Krishnamurthy, who is now with CSK academy.

“I think through my teenage years, and you play on pitches that aren’t quite as good as what these ones have been out here. So, you learn a few skills and adapting, which is quite important,” Ravindra said during a media interaction.

“Working with Sri has been great. I’ve known him since I was 15. Just about learning about different things and he’s good at having a hard word every now and again. He can tell me when something’s not right. I think it helps having the familiarity around it being in India and having played a lot of cricket here,” he added.

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After an impressive show in the World Cup in October and November, it was only a matter of time before an IPL franchise would pick him in the auction held in December. It turned out to be CSK – which got him for Rs. 1.8 crore – although as a backup opener to compatriot Devon Conway.

As things turned out, Conway, who scored 672 runs in IPL 2023, got injured before the IPL season began, opening up an opportunity for Ravindra to face the new ball.

“It’s sort of big shoes to fill. If I can do half (of) what he does, it’ll be really good for the team,” he added.

The CSK management hasn’t given him any specific instructions on how to go about things and the “chill” environment in the team has helped him be himself.

“They talk about strike rates and all that stuff. The role clarity comes from playing your game, and that’s important for us all as a team. So, just do our things in the T20 game and we’ll be fine. Everyone’s different. The freedom to go out and play your own game, not trying to be someone else probably helps a lot in that,” he explained.

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One of the most remarkable things about the youngster has been how easily he has adapted to batting at the top and also how he played spin bowling during the World Cup – averaging 141 against the tweakers and striking them at almsot 118.

“I’ve sometimes batted at the top for my domestic team (Wellington) in New Zealand. You also have opportunities to face a new ball, which is great for me. It was more about how I can get better against playing spin and put a little bit more pressure on the bowlers in that way,” he said.

“It was just like a development thing being in the nets and hitting specific shots that I wanted to work on. And lucky enough, it sort of happened. It took a long time. I practised these shots for years, and it was nice to get in the middle, and you have a nice wicket to play on, and suddenly it all falls into place.”

Ravindra is aware that despite his career’s rapid rise – both on the international arena and in the IPL – he’s still early in his career. His focus remains more on learning and understanding how he can contribute to the team.

“It’s just about trying to get better day by day, and even in the nets, learning from the guys around me, learning from Flem (Stephen Fleming), and learning from MS (Dhoni).”

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