Let me begin with a small confession. I would like to start with a touchwood and wish and pray for all the success for this 20-year-old who has been batting like a dream at such a young age in a competition that can really grind you: the Indian Premier League.
Born in Edappal, Kerala, Devdutt Padikkal started his cricketing career in Karnataka after moving there with his family. At the age of 17, he made his debut in the Karnataka Premier league for Bellary tuskers and played at #7 as a finisher. He was persisted as a finisher in the first 3 games where he was unable to make a significant impact with the bat.
He got the opportunity to open the innings in his 4th game and stamped his authority with a watchful 72 from 53 balls and played an important role for his team chasing down the target of 127 runs. He scored 43 out of his 72 runs of spinners and was just the sign of things that were to come thereafter.
He soon made his Ranji Trophy debut against Maharashtra where he showcased his temperament by scoring 77 valuable runs in a tricky chase of 184 runs. He scored 74 against Gujarat batting at #4 and compiled a good 75 runs against Railways.
He sealed the deal in the last edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy where he top-scored in the competition by accumulating a whopping 580 runs at an average of 64.44 at a belligerent strike rate of 175.75 including a century and 5 fifties. The 2nd highest scorer was Ruturaj Gaikwad with 419 runs.
He was again impressive in Vijay Hazare trophy in the same year where he again top-scored with 609 runs at an average of 67.66 and with a strike rate of 81.09. He looked set to become the next big thing in Indian cricket. He loves to play the spinners and takes advantage of the fielding restrictions which is the primary requirement for an opener. He might not be a technically correct batsman but his hand-eye coordination and the range of shots he possesses under his kitty and the conviction with which he plays his game is what makes this southpaw doubly special.
Shimmering start to his IPL career:
He was picked by RCB for the 2019 edition of IPL but didn’t get a chance and was drafted straight into the team’s playing XI for the very first game of the ongoing season because of his magnificent exploits in the aforementioned Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali tourneys.
The way Devdutt Padikkal handled the spotlight on him in the very first game of IPL against SRH was the final nail in the coffin as he made the whole world take note of him for what he is capable of. He scored a 50 on his IPL debut and smashed the SRH bowlers to all parts of the ground.
He was dismissed for a first-ball duck against Kings XI Punjab but came back strongly against the heavyweights in Mumbai Indians to bring up his 2nd half-century in his 3rd IPL game. He followed that with another half-century against Rajasthan Royals in his 4th game this year. He is playing the game exactly the way it should be played. He isn’t afraid to take advantage of the fielding restrictions and not holding himself back in the name of playing in a responsible manner which has become an unwanted norm at the moment.
Although he tends to slow a bit post field restrictions, it’s clearly the lack of intent than lack of ability because he tries to take his innings deep after starting with a bang which only shows his maturity at this young age that he doesn’t want to throw his wicket away after bright starts.
In the 4 games of IPL so far, he has 83 runs in 54 balls against pacers in the first 6 overs scoring at 9.22 runs per over. In the middle phase, he scores 38 runs from 28 balls scoring 8.14 runs per over. It is against spinners where Devdutt Padikkal has brought out his cautious game in the middle overs where he has maintained a scoring rate of 6.5 with 38 runs from 35 balls.
For some reason, Devdutt Padikkal tends to hang back a little bit against spinners and it is being reflected in his scoring rate. He has all the ability to dance down the track to smack the spinners and it’s just a matter of time that he carries the same tempo into the middle overs with which he starts the innings.
He has a much bigger challenge awaiting him and with the way he is playing at the moment, it’s only a matter of time that this lanky Karnataka batsman represents in the Indian colors.