Had anyone watched a domestic match of Karnataka, the person would know, Devdutt Padikkal is a special talent. Now with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), he has been nurtured by some of the world’s best and his confident innings of 70 off 50 balls against Chennai Super Kings on Friday was just a testament to the fact.
Even before he was picked up by RCB from IPL 2019 auctions, the talks about Devdutt Padikkal amongst cricket aficionados would never stop. Every other day, Padikkal would put up an eye-popping score in club cricket and his name would eventually come up. When Karnataka decided to give him a call-up in 2018, with Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal, Manish Pandey, KL Rahul amongst the international batters still present, he had a big task ahead.
But not many had expected him to take the domestic cricket by storm. He didn’t but it was the white-ball cricket where he flourished and caught RCB scouts’ eyes at a time when Royal Challengers Bangalore were going through an identity crisis without any Karnataka players amongst their ranks. The ones who were there weren’t expected to make it to the first team.
After sitting out the first season, Devdutt Padikkal and being mentored by Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Simon Katich besides Mike Hesson, the youngster put up a stellar show. In IPL 2020, he smashed three half-centuries in his first four innings. In IPL 2020, he was RCB’s highest scorer with 473 runs in 15 matches at an average of 31.53 including five half-centuries.
In IPL 2021, he has so far scored 287 in eight matches including his maiden century and a half-century on Friday against CSK. As he batted at Sharjah after a Sandstorm delayed the start, Virat Kohli sat back and watched from the other end, encouraging his young colleague after every ball, guiding him to take the leap of faith and he did.
Not many would take on Josh Hazlewood for a six but Devdutt Padikkal didn’t bother paying attention to the bowler’s name. He effortlessly played a straight drive off a fuller delivery only for it to clear the boundary for a six, something even Virat Kohli took notice and lauded his effort.
He might have lost an opportunity to score his second century of IPL and IPL 2021, but Virat Kohli already knows, he is one for the future and perhaps one day he could take up RCB’s captaincy. But most importantly, RCB and Virat Kohli will need to safeguard RCB’s future star and cannot afford to lose the gem as it did for KL Rahul to Punjab Kings in the last mega auction.