Over the last couple of years, there is an upward movement as far as performances from Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL are concerned. RCB have had a lot of positives, however, the biggest of them all has been the rise of opener, Devdutt Padikkal.
Padikkal was an unknown commodity prior to the start of IPL 2020. He was picked up by Virat Kohli and Co. for IPL 2019 but didn’t play a single game that season. The Karnataka cricketer, however, had the privilege of sharing the dressing room with the likes of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
The ardent lovers of the game had to wait for the next edition to watch him play in the cash-rich league. They had seen him go about his business in the domestic cricket. He made waves ever since his stint with Karnataka Premier League in 2017. It was his maiden opportunity in KPL, where he came into prominence. His elegant cover drives and heart-warming flicks attracted eyeballs. His 53-ball 72 was one of the highlights of the tournament. His impressive run in the tournament helped him earn the emerging player of the tournament award.
For all those who had watched him, they knew Devdutt Padikkal was a special kid. For someone as tall as 6 foot 3 inches, bowlers attacking with bouncers was never really a problem. He is brilliant on his front foot and gradually worked on his back-foot game as well. His all-round stroke-play also makes him a batter for the future. Devdutt Padikkal rose through the ranks pretty quickly in age-group cricket.
Impressive performances at under-19 levels meant Padikkal made his first-class debut for Karnataka in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy. There was no stopping him thereafter. He made his List-A debut for Karnataka on 26th September 2019 for Karnataka against Jharkhand in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He emerged as the leading run scorer in the tournament, scoring 609 runs in 11 matches at an average of 67.67, including two centuries.
Padikkal amassed as many as 1838 runs across formats for Karnataka during 2019-20 cricket season. These are some astonishing numbers. He was the team’s leading run-getter in all formats during the season. For the unversed, Padikkal had contributed 42.7 % and 36.13 % of runs to Karnataka total tally of runs in the Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy that season.
The IPL Dream
After warming the benches throughout the 2019 IPL season, Devdutt Padikkal finally made his debut in the IPL 2020 season in UAE. In only his first game, the southpaw played a beautiful knock of 56 off 42 balls as he announced his arrival on the big stage. He went on to hit two more half-centuries in his next three games. The southpaw enjoyed a superb season with the bat and helped his team reach the qualifiers. Overall, he amassed 473 runs in 15 matches at an average of 31.53. There were questions marks, however, on his low strike rate during the middle overs.
Padikkal honed his skills and played at a better strike rate in the following season. The southpaw hit his maiden IPL century against Rajasthan Royals in what was RCB’s fourth game of the season. Chasing a 177-run total, Devdutt Padikkal and Virat Kohli destroyed Rajasthan Royal’s bowling attack. Padikkal recorded his maiden IPL century as he scored an unbeaten 101 off just 52 balls.
In 6 games, Padikkal amassed 195 runs at an average of 32.5. Padikkal’s instrumental performances in domestic cricket, as well as IPL, has now helped him earn a national contract. He is part of India’s 20-man squad for the upcoming white-ball series against India. While there are a lot of contenders to open alongside Shikhar Dhawan in the series, Padikkal would be hoping to be part of the playing XI. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the southpaw.
The Men in Blue will face off Sri Lanka in three ODIs on 13th, 16th and 18th July. It will be followed by three T20s, scheduled to be held on 21, 23 and 25th July 2021. All the matches will take place at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
India's Squad for SL
Shikhar Dhawan (Captain), Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suryakumar Yadav, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Nitish Rana, Ishan Kishan (Wicket-keeper), Sanju Samson (Wicket-keeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, K Gowtham, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Varun Chakravarthy, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Vice-captain), Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, Chetan Sakariya
Net Bowlers : Ishan Porel, Sandeep Warrier, Arshdeep Singh, Sai Kishore, Simarjeet Singh