It will be tough to fill Kohli's shoes: Gaikwad

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Harare, Jul 9 (PTI) India batter Ruturaj Gaikwad knows well that it will be "tough" and "hard" to replace retired Virat Kohli at number three spot in T20Is and said he is just focusing on making valuable contributions with the bat in whatever position the team leadership deems fit.

The retirement of Kohli, skipper Rohit Sharma and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja from the shortest format following the T20 World Cup triumph has opened the doors for the upcoming players and Gaikwad is one such talented batter who has the potential to seal the No. 3 spot.

"This is a big topic and I think it's not the right point to think about it. To even compare with him (Kohli) or try to fill in his shoes is relatively very tough and very hard," Gaikwad said on the eve of the third T20I against Zimbabwe.

"As I had said in the IPL as well, it is difficult to fill my best shoes as well. Definitely, you want to start your career, you want to start the way you want, you want to play your own game. So that's the priority right now.

"Focus on one game, focus on how you can contribute towards the team in whichever position you play and make sure you are on the winning side more often than not." Gaikwad has batted at No. 3 position for India in the first two T20Is against Zimbabwe but the Pune-born cricketer said he has no preference and will bat wherever the team requires him.

"No, wherever the team wants, I will bat there. There is no problem. There is not much difference between the opening and the number 3 because you have to play the new ball. So there is not much difference," he said.

Gaikwad led the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL this year and he said captaincy has made him to get more involved in the game though it didn't make any difference to his batting.

"Actually, to be honest, nothing has changed much. Because my batting has been the same as before. I have to play with responsibility and try and finish it on my own," he said.

"It's just that the way you look at the game, I think every time you are more involved now in the game since you have captained the IPL franchise for a long period of time.

"So you tend to be into the game for a longer period of time instead of just staying in the boundary outside and just focusing on one ball. As I said, batting wise it's not made much difference." Young opener Abhishek Sharma had spoken about how Gaikwad helped him in "keeping perspective" as he went hammer and tongs to blast a match-winning 47-ball 100 in the second T20I.

"Actually, communication is not from a senior player," Gaikwad said.

"It comes from a batting partner because obviously with non-strikers you feel something about a particular bowler or particular conditions and you have to have that confidence to go and share with your partner whatever you feel and what are the right options, what to do in certain situations.

"Definitely this is something which I have been doing it being part of all the teams whether state team, IPL team or Indian team as well..." PTI ATK SSC SSC

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