Royal Challengers Bangalore’s 20-year-old debutant Devdutt Padikkal lit up the Dubai International Stadium with some audacious strokeplay en route to 56 off 42 balls, helping RCB to a solid start. RCB had a brand new opening pair of debutant Padikkal and Australia’s Aaron Finch and they delivered, scoring 53 runs in the powerplay overs.
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Padikkal was part of the RCB squad last year, but had not got a game. However, heading into this season of the IPL, the left-handed batsman was one of the most talked about names to watch out for. The upcoming star of Karnataka cricket, Padikkal played crucial roles in their victories in both white-ball tournaments last season.
Padikkal took his first step towards becoming the next rising star from Karnataka, smashing 609 runs from 11 matches in the Vijay Hazare Trophy to top the batting charts and help the side win the tournament. In November - December, he showed he can switch formats effortlessly to T20 cricket and topped the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy batting charts with 580 runs at an incredible strike rate of 175.75, with one century and five fifties. Once again, it was a performance that helped Karnataka win the tournament.
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On Monday, Padikkal made immediate impact carting Sandeep Sharma over midwicket to get started before clipping one past short fine to earn two boundaries. He then smoked SRH debutant T Natarajan for three fours in an over - one towards deep square, then over extra cover and the last one over deep midwicket. Padikkal continued to show his range launching one straight down the ground off Mitchell Marsh. After the power play, he settled down with Finch taking on the aggressor’s role.
Such was his confidence in the middle that Padikkal even tried to reverse sweep Rashid Khan. He eventually reached his fifty off 36 balls with a sweep off Abhishek Sharma, making him the first IPL debutant since Sam Billing (CSK) in 2016 to reach the half-century mark. With this, he now has 50s on his First-Class, List A, T20 and IPL debuts. But, he could not push on and was castled by Vijay Shankar on 56 off 42 balls after being dropped in the deep in the same over.