Devdutt Padikkal stakes his claim for India role with emphatic performance in IPL 2020

While Royal Challengers Bangalore failed yet again in their bid for a maiden IPL 2020 crown with a dismal 6-wicket loss to SunRisers Hyderabad, one name that stood out for them throughout their stay has been that of Devdutt Padikkal.

The RCB opener justified his place amongst the big shots in RCB – finishing as his side’s top run-scorer with an impressive 473 runs to his name from 15 matches with five half-centuries. His runs came at an average of 31.54 with a strike-rate of 124.80 against the new ball. The fact that he outscored skipper Virat Kohli and the seasoned AB de Villiers is an ode to his sheer consistency.

RCB, who had lacked a stable opening pair in the past few seasons, finally found a dependable opening stalwart in the form of Padikkal, who provided several solid starts to the Virat Kohli-led side. RCB’s purchase of Padikkal for his base price of Rs 20 Lakhs is likely to go down as one of the biggest bargains in IPL history.

RCB had finished at the bottom of the table last year and a disappointing sixth in 2018 but this year, they managed to qualify for the IPL 2020 Playoffs after some brilliant performances. Padikkal was at the forefront of those wins – developing a brilliant opening partnership  with Aussie limited overs skipper Aaron Finch.

It is hard to believe that the left-handed batsman is still only 20-years-old if his performances in the IPL 2020 are anything to go by. The Kerala-born opener was somewhat of an unknown quantity coming into the cash-rich league although his performances in the Indian domestic circle made him one to look out for.

 Padikkal’s opening exploits were perhaps the principal reason for Karnataka’s triumphant run to both the limited overs domestic titles. Last season, The southpaw scored an astonishing 609 runs from 11 matches in the List A ( 50 overs) Vijay Hazare trophy while racking-up 580 runs from 12 matches in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy (T20) at a searing strike-rate of 175.75 – being the top run-scorer in both of them.

While several former players and fans alike have been left impressed by Padikkal’s feats against the new ball, it remains to be seen when the national team selectors take notice of this prodigy that they have at their disposal. While India’s tour of Australia was too big a tour to take risks, Padikkal can be blooded into the squad in anyone of India’s home series in the near future.

Some may argue that selection into the national team is a different ball game altogether and shouldn’t be done on the basis of IPL performances, Padikkal has the numbers in both domestic cricket as well as in the IPL which surely brings him to the reckoning.

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Sagar Biswas

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