Playing alongside Kohli was a great lesson: Devdutt Padikkal

Padikkal with Virushka
Devdutt Padikkal with Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma.
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Bengaluru: Promising youngster Devdutt Padikkal was one of the shining lights for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL). Already a proven performer in the Indian domestic circuit, the 20-year-old mesmerised one and all with his fluent strokeplay against the likes of Trent Boult and Jofra Archer, the best in the business with the new ball. 

In his maiden IPL season, the youngster accumulated 473 runs in 15 innings at an average of 31.53 and a strike-rate of 124. He made five half-centuries and became the the first player to ever score three 50s in his first four games in the competition. 

Remarkably, the explosive opener, who smashed 51 fours and eight sixes, finished IPL 2020 as RCB’s top run-getter ahead of the likes of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, two legends of the game. That was no mean feat. And it came as no surprise when he was adjudged the ‘Emerging Player of the Season’.

Many commentators and former cricketers, including  BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, have already said that if the youngster continued to perform consistently he would be seen opening innings for the national side in the near future.

Born in Edappal in Malappuram district to Babunu and Ambili, Padikkal’s progress in the last couple of years has been quite astonishing. Before setting the IPL on fire in his maiden appearance, he had great domestic season for Karnataka. 

A fearless batsman who plays his strokes and looks to dominate, the lanky southpaw was the highest run-getter in the last edition of the Vijay Hazare trophy tournament with 609 runs in 11 innings, scoring at an average of 67.66. He topped the run charts at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 championship as well, scoring 580 runs in 12 matches with a stunning strike-rate of 175.75. Karnataka went on to win both the limited-overs tournaments, thanks to Padikkal's consistency with the willow.

In an exclusive interview, the youngster talks about his debut IPL season and the experience of sharing the dressing room with Indian skipper Virat Kohli. 

Excerpts: 

It was a memorable IPL debut, wasn't it? 

Of course. I'm extremely happy  that I could score that much runs. I was definitely not expecting to score 473 runs. I just wanted play well if I got a chance. To be honest, I exceeded my own expectations! 

Skipper Kohli was lavish in his praise of your performances. How was it to share the same dressing room with him? 

It was incredible. He is one of the most experienced cricketers around and to play an entire season alongside him was a valuable lesson. He was always ready to offer tips and clear my doubts. I learned a lot from him, like pacing the innings and adapting to different situations. Having him at the non-striker's end was of great help. He encouraged me a lot and said nice things about my batting whenever I did well. He said the coming seasons would be tougher and I should keep working hard to stay on top. 

Fearless strokeplayer
Padikkal in action against Mumbai Indians. File photo: Twitter/IPL

You were scoring runs for fun in the domestic circuit last year. How different were the pitches in the UAE?

The conditions were more or less the same. The quality of the pitches were really good. It was the weather that made things more challenging. It was not easy to play long innings in those hot and humid conditions. It took me about three weeks to acclimate.

Your strike rate in the powerplay was very impressive throughout the season. But it seemed you were struggling to maintain or improve that rate in the middle overs...

Each player in a team has a specific role to perform. My duty was to bat through the innings. If we have wickets in hand in the final overs, we can play more aggressively and add some extra runs to the total. That was the reason why I curbed my attacking instincts and chose caution after the powerplay.

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