He steps out of the crease as soon as the ball is released. And then times the ball to the far corners.
Watching the charge-down-the-wicket act, the bowler shortens his length. But then, the batsman goes deep into his crease and puts away the ball ruthlessly.
This in a nutshell is Ruturaj Gaikwad.
He puts his dancing shoes on every time he enters the crease, dismantling the length of a bowler. And he is cat-like in his footwork, so light, so ethereal. The 24-year-old Chennai Super Kings batsman has been making waves this season not just for runs at the top of the order but the quality of his stroke-play.
When someone who has seen as much cricket as Virender Sehwag tweets, “Remember the name. Special player, made for greater things. Matter of time before he dominates World Cricket,” you’ve got to take the man seriously.
In this IPL season, Ruturaj so far has 521 runs in 13 games at 47.36 (strike rate 138.93). Runs where he stamped his authority.
There is so much to admire in Ruturaj. His relaxed stance, the smooth bat swing, the ability to pick length quickly, balance where the head stays still, secure defence, delightful footwork and the ability to find gaps.
Here is a batsman with grace and flow, and the ability to slice open an attack craftily rather than bulldoze through it.
It is difficult to set a field for him because of his strength off either foot, and his strokes, with a vertical or a horizontal blade, on both sides of the pitch.
Ruturaj is writy too, can manoeuvre the ball through the open spaces.
His opening partnerships with Faf du Plessis have been rousing, the chemistry between the two symbiotic.
The Maharashtra batsman’s unbeaten 101 against Rajasthan Royals where he swung the last delivery of the innings, from Mustafizur Rahman, for a six revealed his ice-cool nerves.
Ruturaj’s Twenty20 debut for India in Sri Lanka this year marked the beginning.
This cat should waltz on the international stage.