In 2018 Devdutt Padikkal was an under 19 aspirant looking to make his way into the Karnataka senior team. He went on making his way into the side and left a mark on the star-studded Karnataka lineup.
He became the first player to complete 1000 runs across formats in the 2019-2020 Indian domestic season. He had some impactful performances throughout the domestic series. The Royal Challengers retained him after not playing a single game in IPL 2019.
His attitude has impressed both Virat Kohli and Mike Hesson, the Director of Cricket at Royal Challengers Bangalore.
He was given a chance to open for RCB following an impressive domestic season. His ability to play freely was what made Kohli sacrifice his spot at the top to accommodate Padikkal.
Padikkal impressed immediately. He made 56 in his first game against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, batting well with Aaron Finch at the other end. He scored his runs at a brisk pace allowing Finch to play himself in and helped his side put 163 on the board.
He followed his half-century with another 54 against the Mumbai Indians. This time he had a better partnership with Finch, who attacked and kept pace with Padikkal allowing RCB to get off to a great start.
He continued his excellent form against the Rajasthan Royals. While his previous knocks came while batting first, he scored a patient and steady 63 while chasing. RCB were chasing 154 on a pitch where Royal’s batsmen struggled to get going. In the third over, the loss of Aaron Finch bought in Virat Kohli, who looked out of form and was struggling to get himself going.
While Virat Kohli started slow, Padikkal ensured his side didn’t slow down. He allowed Virat Kohli to play himself in and regain his touch. The two of them were a part of a 99 run partnership with both getting half-centuries. Another challenge Padikkal faced was the heat in Abu Dhabi during an afternoon game.
A partnership with Virat Kohli involves a lot of running between the wickets. While Virat Kohli is one of the fittest going around, Padikkal struggled towards later in his innings. Post 50, he struggled to find timing and control. Along with a lack of control, he had developed cramps. He was still pushed continuously by Virat Kohli to keep going which, tested him well.
Post-match, he said it was different batting with Kohli, watching him since he was young. He spoke about how the heat had affected him and how Kohli pushed him to keep going.
Devdutt Padikkal has helped RCB solve a problem they have faced over the years. He reduced the burden on Virat Kohli and Ab De Villiers with his consistency. His performance helped solve their issue of being overly dependent on their two superstars.
Four games into the tournament, Padikkal has made three half-centuries. RCB has won all three games in which he crossed 50. He has been among the most impressive youngsters this IPL. Being impressive among the youngsters is worth noting as there have been many remarkable performances from various youngsters across teams this season.
Competing with the like of Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill who have been pretty consistent themselves, Devdutt Padikkal has done well to make himself heard. While being heard among a large set of talented youngsters is tough, it can be even more difficult to get noticed while playing for a team filled with superstars. To make an impact in a team that contains the likes of Virat Kohli, Aaron Finch, and Ab De Villiers shows the kind of potential Devdutt Padikkal contains.
He has been consistent at the top for the Royal Challengers. One can hope that he stays consistent in a side that has been a little over-reliant on its superstars in the past. Let’s all hope Padikkal maintains his consistency while impressing us all.