After a tournament in which most things that could go wrong have done for Ruturaj Gaikwad, the highly-rated batsman was finally afforded some cheer.
The 23-year-old batsman hit his maiden IPL half-century, as well a six to seal a comfortable eight-wicket win for Chennai Super Kings over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Dubai.
The result will have no material affect on the competition: Chennai are destined for the exit, while Bangalore are getting ready for a run at a maiden title.
It was, though, some belated good news for a side who have faced a series of troubles this term – starting a month before the season started when Gaikwad was one of a number of personnel who tested positive for Covid.
Gaikwad had been pencilled in as the long-term replacement for Suresh Raina, the Chennai stalwart who dramatically opted out of the competition amid the spate of Covid positives.
His extended quarantine meant he – like his side as a whole – were ill-prepared for the campaign. He made two ducks and a five in the three games he played before facing RCB.
He showed his class, though, in making 65 not out to take Chennai past Bangalore’s total of 145-6 on a tired wicket at the Dubai International Stadium.
“It was tough for me going into quarantine for more days than the rest of the team because of Covid,” Gaikwad said after he was named man of the match.
“I got support from everybody. I knew a knock was always around the corner.
“It was a little bit slow, but I was picking up the gaps. And I was pro-active to pick which bowlers to attack and which to not.”
Coincidentally, the tone was set by the bowling of Deepak Chahar – the other player to test positive for coronavirus at the start of the campaign.
He took two wickets, and Sam Curran three, as Chennai picked up their fourth win in 12 matches.
“You have to enjoy the game no matter where you are on the table,” MS Dhoni, Chennai’s captain, said.
“If you are not enjoying the cricket, it can become cruel and painful. So I am glad with how the youngsters have responded.”
Virat Kohli made a third half-century of the season, but was unimpressed by how his side had fared.
“What you saw in the second innings wasn't a true reflection of how difficult the pitch was,” said Kohli, after Chennai eased to the win with just two wickets lost.
“We didn't hit the right areas, there were too many boundary balls.
“They bowled really well. We hardly got any drive balls from them. We were looking for 150, but we were happy with 145.
“We just didn't bowl enough slower balls. No change of pace, no bouncers. We saw how difficult it was to get under those slower balls.”