How Rachin Ravindra at CSK is fast becoming IPL 2024’s best signing: ‘I’ve always idolised Jadeja’ | Ipl News

Rachin Ravindra CSK IPL

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The IPL subreddit, usually a battleground for browbeating diatribes, last night offered something to be unanimously agreed upon. “Can someone please explain why Rachin Ravindra went for so cheap?” read the comment. Underneath it, an elaboration, “Are all other teams except CSK mo**ns? Why not bid more on a young proven talent? If CSK goes on a winning streak the next few years because of him, all those other teams deserve not winning many titles.”

Rachin Ravindra, poached at a bargain price of 1.8 crore INR, has turned out to be an instant hit for the defending champions CSK.

Moving on from their previously successful model of sinking the opposition via their spinners to now flexing their long batting on a healthier batting wicket at Chepauk, Chennai’s new signing is coming handy to lay the tempo for big scores up front. Or as CSK batting coach Michael Hussey said the other night, “Flem’s talk is about playing fast.”

Devon Conway’s injury has come as a blessing-in-disguise for his longtime mate’s IPL career, keeping up with a tradition of Trans-Tasman left-handed openers fairing well at CSK. Straight off the rip, Rachin has digged the field restrictions. “I think once he got a couple of good shots early, his confidence just grew and he believed that yeah, I can perform on this stage and he’s grown from there,” Hussey believes.

What helps Rachin is the fact that while he is a purist batter at heart, the 24-year-old is all in for claiming ugly boundaries. “Whether a shot is good looking or not, it’s still four runs for the team. So you take it. Even if it’s nicked to the third man,” Rachin had said of his batting beliefs to this newspaper last year. An inside edge, with the ball whiskering past the stumps is how the Kiwi had got off the mark in the IPL this year. That, and a miscued pull that landed over the fine leg fence – also fairly early in his innings against RCB – showed a knack for taking necessary risks to make the most of field restrictions. A virtue CSK have missed at times over the past few seasons.

That desire for risky shots comes as a surprise for Rachin’s foundation is as textbook as it can be, especially while playing in India. “A lot of it has come from dad in the way he followed the Indian cricketers. I looked at those guys for my inspiration. If you look at the way Dravid and Sachin, how they used their wrists to place the ball into the gaps and generate power while still having a very good technical base, it was something I really admired,” he’d conceded.

That wristswork couldn’t be unseen last night as Rachin raced to 46 off just 19 deliveries. On his last tour to India, it was a shot the southpaw had unleashed to pickpocket runs behind the square. Against Gujarat though, Rachin looked at his picturesque best playing them in front. Like the slice he carved off Umesh Yadav – standing still and just throwing his hands at the fuller length delivery. Or the on-drive he flashed off Azmatullah Omarzai, pressing forward and bending his wrists to power the ball down the ground. Against Rashid Khan, he looked at ease, rocking deep into his crease, collapsing his wrists to punch one through covers.

Festive offer

Jadeja’s clone

There’s a photo from Rachin’s first tour to India with New Zealand’s senior side back in 2021 that did rounds on the social media – the Patels and the Ravindras from both teams flaunting their kits. Recalling the moment, Rachin had said, “It honestly just happened. I think our media guys were like, ‘Let’s just get in there’. It was a serious coincidence.” That Rachin and Jadeja now play for the franchise may come across as another. The other night, as Rachin dived in the field to grab a worldly, one of the commentators also mistook the Kiwi with the Indian. But it’s not just the name on their backs, or the curly bangs that make them almost indistinguishable. It’s also their playing attributes.

A couple of left-handed batters, who also bowl left-arm orthodox, and are gun fielders. In his couple outings, Rachin has shown his versatility as a fielder – inside the circle or in the deep. A role the other Ravindra has made a brand out of. Against Bangalore, it was the 24-year-old’s low-diving catch of Faf du Plessis by the boundary that caught the eye. But almost as well executed was his take of Azmatullah Omarzai: running back from extra cover, and grasping it reverse cupped while losing balance and falling on his back.

“Someone like a Jadeja, I’ve idolised him,” concedes Rachin. It’s the Indian’s ability to contribute with the ball, of being a genuine all-rounder, that’s an ambition of the Kiwi. “In terms of team balance, it helps a lot. If I look at my skillset – to bat in the top three and provide a potential full quota on a turning wicket or wherever it is – helps balance the team. Whether it’s an extra batter or a bowler, that’s important to me. Especially in India to be able to get that depth. I’ve always bowled, it’s been a part of me since the beginning. I’ve obviously spent more time on my batting but I’d like to continue developing my bowling.”

Coincidentally, Rachin’s maiden call-out for New Zealand was owing to the fact that he could bowl spin. Perhaps his latest sojourn in India, sharing the dressing room with his idol, can change that. If there is one IPL franchise that can assist him to solidify his credentials as a spinner, it’s the one that’s got him for a bargain. If they do, “all those other teams *surely* deserve not winning many titles”.

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