IPL 2020: A big learning curve for Devdutt Padikkal | Cricket News
BENGALURU: Off the sixth ball he faced on his IPL debut, Royal Challengers Bangalore opener Devdutt Padikkal pulled Sunrisers Hyderabad medium-pacer Sandeep Sharma over wide mid-on. In the same over, he essayed a flick to the fine-leg boundary. They were the first sparks of intent, purpose and confidence from the 20-year-old Karnataka batsman. At the end of RCB’s campaign in the playoffs, Padikkal had finished as the team’s highest scorer with 473 runs, which included five half-centuries. Deservingly, he was named the tournament’s Emerging Player of the Season.
Having received high praise over the past couple of months, especially from past masters, Padikkal is clearly one for the future. While his fearless strokeplay in the powerplay has been much appreciated, the fact that he held his own in a star-studded line-up speaks for his temperament, too.
Back from a personally fruitful IPL campaign in the UAE, Padikkal admitted to being nervous after the pandemic-induced break. “There was some uncertainty about where everyone would go after such a long break,” said the youngster, who finished the season with an impressive strike rate of 124.80. “It is not easy to get into game-mode straightaway after a long break. The fact that we could go there three weeks prior and have a good amount of practice under our belt really helped,” he told TOI.
Unsurprisingly for a newcomer, Padikkal was on the edge before his debut against David Warner & Co. “I was very nervous before my first match. Before the game, I was pacing around the dressing room trying to keep myself occupied. Once I got on to the field, everything came back – memories of the domestic season and the form I was in. My nerves settled and I was back to following the processes,” the left-handed opener, who was born in Edappal in Kerala, pointed out.
The 2019-2020 domestic season was his first full-fledged domestic gig for the Karnataka senior team. Padikkal amassed 1,838 runs in 31 matches across formats. In the IPL, those runs proved priceless in many more ways.
“The domestic season was a huge confidence-booster because whenever you have runs to your credit, it makes you more confident and relaxed. That was important for me because through that, I knew I was capable of scoring big runs and being consistent. I just had to make sure I transferred the confidence, process and mindset from the domestic circuit to the IPL,” he explained.
From a rookie who warmed the bench last season to a debutant who turned game changer for Virat Kohli and Co on more than one occasion, Padikkal has come a long way. He attributes that self-assurance to sharing the Karnataka dressing room with the big names who are part of the Indian team.
“Within the Karnataka team, we have the likes of KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Mayank Agarwal and Karun Nair. I knew they were bigger players (than me) but I had to make sure I took responsibility and performed. Even in the IPL, irrespective of who I was batting with, I had to make sure I took the responsibility of putting the team in a strong position. That said, it helps to have such players around. Their experience of handling every situation helped me throughout the season.”
With RCB following a buddy system, Padikkal was paired in the mentoring process with skipper Kohli. In awe of the Indian captain, Padikkal said, “He is such a passionate and driven cricketer. For me to spend so much time with him was an amazing experience. I learnt a lot from him, both on and off the field – especially the way he handles himself, communicates his thoughts to others, leads by example and wants to be the best in whatever he does. These are things I picked up from him, and hopefully I can emulate him.”
Padikkal, who chose the 45-ball 74 against Mumbai Indians as his best effort, believes sustaining intensity levels was one of his key takeaways from this campaign. “Also, there is very little room for error when you are playing at that level. You lose concentration one ball, and you are gone. That’s something I learnt and I will continue to put that into practice.”