IPL 2020: ‘Devdutt Padikkal’s shots remind me of a young Yuvraj Singh,’ says Venkatesh Prasad
IPL 2020: Padikkal was with RCB the year before, but did not get to play a single game as he watched his team crumble from the sidelines. This time around, he has been at the forefront of RCB’s successUpdated: Nov 01, 2020, 09:27 IST
On October 29, as Mumbai Indians were playing Royal Challengers Bangalore in Abu Dhabi, hoping to become the first team to qualify for the IPL 2020 playoffs, an interesting stat popped up. RCB’s Devdutt Padikkal had become only the second uncapped Indian player to register 400-plus runs in his maiden IPL season. Padikkal was with RCB the year before, but did not get to play a single game as he watched his team crumble from the sidelines. This time around, he has been at the forefront of RCB’s success, scoring 422 runs from 13 matches, next only to captain Virat Kohli.
The IPL over the years, has had a history of producing youngsters who have been termed ‘finds of the IPL’. But with Padikkal, IPL 2020 has been an opportunity to add to his already impressive resume for a 20-year-old. He’s been talked about so highly, almost creating this aura about him ever since he walked out to bat against Sunrisers Hyderabad in RCB’s opening match of the season and peeled off a brilliant half-century.
Venkatesh Prasad, the former India fast bowler, as chairman of the Under-19 National Selection Committee, was one of the firsts to spot Padikkal. Weighing in on how well Padikkal has converted his brilliant form from the Indian domestic season into the IPL, Prasad, not surprisingly, reckons the future is bright for the left-handed batsman from Karnataka.
“This is just the first step I would say because the true test of a player is in playing the big matches, in a pressure-filled environment. He has really handled the pressure in IPL well. It is watched world-wide, its fan base and product is huge and he’s caught everyone’s eye,” Prasad, an expert on Star Sports Kannada for the IPL 2020, told Hindustan Times.
“There’s a long career ahead. One thing is for sure that if he focuses on the process, he works on his fitness, he will go a long way. And being a left-hander, it’s going to be a huge advantage. He needs to keep his heads on his shoulder and not get carried away. If he’s disciplined, I’m sure there are greater things awaiting him, more than what he’s already done.”
Earlier in the tournament, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar shared a very interesting anecdote regarding Padikkal, saying that the legendary Gundappa Viswanath simply ‘nodded’ when he asked about the youngster. Apparently, the famous Viswanath nod means Padikkal is destined for greatness. Viswanath did that with Rahul Dravid, KL Rahul, and now Padikkal.
“I completely agree with what Sunny said, because I come from the same state as Gundappa Vishwanath, and when I made my debut for India, Vishwanath was the chairman,” Prasad said. “I know what it is when Sunny had to say that when Gundappa nods, it definitely means Devdutt Padikkal has destined for the simple reason that first these are two legends. Second, GR Vishwanath has great skills in observation and identifying talent. I can vouch for it. It’s a great compliment I would say and it’s up to Padikkal now. He has shown those glimpses that he’s got the skills and he can take on any bowler.”
Padikkal hasn’t exactly set the IPL on fire, like he did with the Syed Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Hazare Trophy last season, where he emerged as the highest run-getter in both tournaments. And yet, he’s struck four half-centuries, three of those coming in a period of four matches. In the innings he didn’t, Padikkal ensured that barring a couple of low scores, he scored 20s and 30s frequently, which underlines terrific consistency for a 20-year-old playing his first IPL season. Besides, Padikkal is a terrific fielder. He’s already grabbed a couple of thrilling catches that have become worthy contenders for the catch of the season.
“We’ve also seen some splendid catches taken by him – in the slips and then one diving catch he took so that shows that he can field in any position. So that cuts a great deal for me. He has the attitude, fitness. People have taken note of him,” Prasad said.
Growing up, Padikkal studied in the same school as Dravid, but it is no coincidence that like the former India captain and so many more after, he has added to the rich breed of cricketers coming from Karnataka. Padikkal first came into the limelight while playing for the Ballari Tuskers in the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) in 2017. A year later, Padikkal was given the ‘Best Batsman’ award by the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) for his consistency in U19 tournaments.
In the Cooch Behar Trophy 2018-19, Padikkal finished that tournament as the fourth-highest run-getter (829) and has been on an upward curve ever since. With 1838 runs, the 2019-20 season was a massive hit for Padikkal, where he toppled several records, including hitting a total of 33 sixes in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
One very striking feature about Padikkal is the terrific bat speed he generates. Prasad in fact, believes that Padikkal’s batting has shades of Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh, two of the cleanest strikers in the history of Indian cricket.
“The first thing that struck me about him was that he was a left-handed batsman, which is a rare thing in India. It’s been there for a long time, but we’ve not seen very good left-hand batsmen. Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh were two of them, but otherwise, we haven’t seen too many great left-handed batsmen. With Padikkal being a left-hander, people will show keenness. Secondly, I was highly impressed with his fielding. Like I said, fielding is all about fitness and the moment,” Prasad pointed out.
“Virender Sehwag is a great example where it was just his bat speed – like Devdutt Padikkal – and hand-eye coordination. And Sehwag was one of the highest scorers, who got two triple hundreds. A few of Padikkal’s shots were a lot like Yuvraj Singh in his 20s. Like the pull shot he plays or when he comes down the track, or when he goes after the fast bowlers. That shows a lot of confidence,” he said.
Prior to the beginning of the tournament, Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Abdul Samad, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Riyan Parag made for some of the power-packed band of uncapped Indian batsmen in IPL 2020, but no one has come even closer to Padikkal in terms of performance. Gaikwad for most part had to warm the bench and as did Jaiswal, while Samad and Parag have returned ordinary numbers.
“No doubt, it’s Padikkal,” Prasad said when asked about the youngster that excites him the most. I don’t want to single out because he’s from Karnataka. He’s shown maturity, and consistency comes with maturity. He’s able to handle pressure and he isn’t just a flash in the pan. Based on what I’ve seen in the IPL. He knows how to build his innings, and these areas are where I’d place Padikkal above the rest.”
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