‘He sent me a text saying ‘you’re playing really well’’: Devdutt Padikkal reveals special praise from star batsman

Devdutt Padikkal of Royal Challengers Bangalore was quite easily the find of the Indian Premier League 2020. In his maiden IPL season, Padikkal scored 473 runs to not only be the highest run-scorer for RCB, but hold the record for the most runs by a batsman in his debut IPL season. Padikkal peeled off four five half-centuries and the promise showed by the youngster fetched him the ‘Emerging Player’ award.

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Being with RCB gave Padikkal the opportunity to share the dressing room with two modern greats – Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. Padikkal was involved in several memorable partnerships with his captain, and even though he didn’t bat much with de Villiers, the 20-year-old youngster cherished all his learnings from the former South Africa captain.

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“He’s a special player. Just watching him bat is a treat for your eyes. Throughout the season, he kept telling me to stay in the zone and continue to do what I was doing,” Padikkal told ESPNCricinfo.

“I remember when we were travelling back from the Mumbai [Indians] game in which I got the 70 [74], he sent me a text message saying, ‘Continue to do that and you’re playing really well, just stay in the zone and enjoy yourself’. That was really special because, coming from him, it was a great honour. I really enjoyed batting with him whenever I could because he makes your job so easy. He just takes on the bowlers from ball one and I enjoyed watching him.”

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Padikkal was part of the RCB setup last year, but he was on the sidelines watching his team crumble. This time around, Padikkal entered the IPL on the back of a solid reputation of being the leading run-scorer in the Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy tournaments – India’s premier domestic one-day and T20 competitions. More than any technical aspects, Padikkal admitted to working towards the mental bit.

“It was more [about] the mental side of the game, because after a certain point the physical aspect is in a set place. Then it’s more about how you handle the pressure and the situation,” the youngster said.

“So that’s what I was working on and whenever I got a chance, even in domestic tournaments, I wanted to make sure that I took responsibility and tried to take the team home even though there were some international cricketers in our Karnataka side. That’s something I really wanted to work on because I knew that when I came into the IPL, there will be big players around and I knew I’d want to be the one to take the responsibility.”

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