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regular-article-logo Thursday, 30 May 2024

Auction-reject to hero, Rajat Patidar rocks

Batter remained unfazed even when RCB had lost their former captain Virat Kohli and game-changer Glenn Maxwell in quick succession

Sayak Banerjee Calcutta Published 27.05.22, 01:45 AM
Rajat Patidar during his unbeaten 112 on Wednesday.

Rajat Patidar during his unbeaten 112 on Wednesday. PTI

Time will tell whether the IPL has thrown up another future superstar, but make no mistake, Rajat Patidar owned the Eden Gardens on Wednesday, when his majestic 112 not out played a pivotal role in the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s 14-run victory over Lucknow Super Giants.

It does take something for an uncapped batsman to outshine the big names of his team and produce such a knock in a pressure situation before such a large turnout. But what appeared to be one of the biggest plus points for the 28-year-old top-order batsman from Madhya Pradesh is that he remained unfazed even when RCB had lost their former captain Virat Kohli and game-changer Glenn Maxwell in quick succession. Skipper Faf du Plessis was gone in the very first over of the game.

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At 86 for 3 in the 11th over, RCB seemed to be losing the momentum. But their No.3 batsman, who so far has played only 39 first-class and 43 List A matches and had only 37 T20 appearances before Wednesday’s Eliminator contest, looked at the scenario as an opportunity. He grabbed by the bull by its horns.

Agreed, he was let off by Lucknow’s butter-fingered fielding, but it was still an innings that deserves praise.

“When you bat in that fashion and score a hundred which turns out to be a match-winning one, and that too, with the superstars of your side not having contributed much, it only reflects your character. And Rajat seems to be having that in abundance,” former chief selector MSK Prasad told The Telegraph on Thursday.

While that sounds nice, one has to remember that Patidar had no takers at the players’ auction earlier this year. RCB recruited him only as a replacement player for the injured Luvnith Sisodia at his base price (Rs 20 lakh).

Spark & hunger

Prasad, though, isn’t too surprised seeing a blitzkrieg of a knock from Patidar. “During our time in the national selection committee, we had included him on some occasions in the Duleep and Deodhar Trophy squads since he’s a consistent performer in domestic cricket. He has reaped the rewards of his consistency.

“Besides, his innings on Wednesday also underlined the fact that he’s one who’s keen to make his own identity amid so many stars around him,” Prasad emphasised.

Strong mindset

Apart from the unbeaten century, Patidar had also hit a crucial 32-ball 52 in one of his six previous games in this IPL. That was against the Gujarat Titans, though RCB had lost the game.

So it’s not a fluke, rather, it’s an indication of bigger things to come, feels Chandrakant Pandit, Patidar’s coach in the Madhya Pradesh team.

“I’ve been watching him for the last couple of years. Temperamentally, he continues to get better… he makes sure he focuses purely on proper cricketing strokes.

“Such is his level of determination and ability to adjust that he can cut down on aerial strokes altogether and just hit along the ground. I believe he’s in line to get an India call-up,” Pandit, a former wicketkeeper-batsman who represented India in five Tests and 36 ODIs, observed.

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