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'Marriage with Ruturaj Gaikwad will not harm my career,' says cricketer Utkarsha Pawar

Utkarsha Pawar, a domestic cricketer for Maharashtra who is married to Asian Games men's cricket captain Ruturaj Gaikwad, says she does get questions about playing on after marriage, but not from her family.

Marriage with Ruturaj Gaikwad will not harm my career, says cricketer Utkarsha Pawar

Utkarsha Pawar and Ruturaj Gaikwad got married in 2023


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 8 Aug 2023 5:22 AM GMT

Utkarsha Pawar, the 24-year Maharashtra pacer who came in the news after her recent wedding to India men’s cricketer and Asian Games captain Ruturaj Gaikwad, has insisted that she will continue her quest to continue to improve as a cricketer and play for the national team even after marriage.

“I will continue to play cricket for as long as I wish and as long as my body allows me. One can be 200 per cent sure about it, not just 100 per cent,” Utkarsha said in a freewheeling chat with ‘Coffee, Cricket Aani Barach Kaahi’, a Marathi cricket podcast.

Ever since Utkarksha and Ruturaj, the Chennai Super Kings and Maharashtra opener who will lead India at the Asian Games in September-October, tied the knot in Pune on June 3, Utkarsha has been in the news for off-the-field reasons.

With 28 wickets in 39 List A games and 26 scalps in 45 T20 games since her senior inter-state debut for Maharashtra in 2015-16, Utkarsha isn’t concerned about her career prospects.

“I am repeatedly asked about my career now that I am married. Not from the family but only the outsiders seem to be worried about it. My family is supportive. Ruturaj’s family is extremely supportive, our relatives are also supportive... but the question does come up from the outsiders,” Utkarsha said, speaking from the West Indies.

“I have the full support of my parents, husband Ruturaj Gaikwad and my in-laws. I will continue to play cricket as long as I wish and as long as I can since my life revolves around cricket.”

Quitting Kathak when given an option between dancing and cricket

Utkarsha narrated how she followed into her father Amar’s, a local cricketer, footsteps when she was six years old.

“When I was a kid, I used to idolise Zaheer Khan. I wanted to run in fast just like him and bowl as fast as I could. Of course, the minor blip is I am right-handed and he was a left-handed bowler” she said.

“Seeing my desire to bowl fast, my father took me to Anwar Shaikh, who honed my bowling skills and I also went to the nets where Santosh Jedhe, former Maharashtra captain, used to coach players.”

But cricket wasn’t the only sport she played while growing up. She tried her hand at swimming, badminton and football but one day she realized that cricket was her calling. She even quit Kathak when her Guru advised her to stay away from the field or risk losing her tender personality.

Meeting MS Dhoni and the big CSK family

Before the business end of the Indian Premier League’s 2023 edition, Ruturaj Gaikwad was named in the reserves for the World Test Championships final but he had to pull out. And then, a picture broke the internet. MS Dhoni was flanked by Ruturaj and Utkarsha and everyone grinning ear to ear.

“Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s aura is something different. When you are meeting him, you end up calling him sir... But he is so humble and down to earth, it’s unbelievable,” she added.

“I got an opportunity to meet him properly after the final. He has a great sense of humour and tries to keep the atmosphere light around him. He treats everyone like a family. We were on the road for two months or so but he always made us feel at home,” Utkarsha signed off with a smile on her face.

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