Those who watched a young Devdutt Padikkal play as a kid in Karnataka never really had words to express the talent that they were observing. Soon it wasn’t just them who were witnessing the prodigious youngster showcasing his talent as he rose through the ranks of age-group cricket and eventually landed at the doors of the U19s in 2018.
Gradually, he made his way into Karnataka’s senior team and thereafter didn’t take long to make waves there. He ended up as the leading run-scorer in the 2019-20 Vijay Hazare Trophy in his debut season.
Drafted into the Bangalore side before the 2019 edition of the Indian T20 League, it was his first instance of rubbing shoulders with the giants of the game in practice sessions. However, a spot in the playing eleven back then seemed distant: he was too green to be thrown into such a competitive league.
The 2020 Indian T20 League edition with Bangalore was his breakthrough. He amassed 473 runs in 15 innings with five half-centuries and a healthy strike rate of 124.80.
Ending as the leading run-scorer for the side ahead of stalwarts like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers speaks volumes for him. Next season, he scored the fastest century (off 51 balls) by an uncapped player in league history when he smashed an unbeaten 101* versus Rajasthan. It was a shame that the edition had to be postponed owing to the Coronavirus pandemic and he couldn’t build on that performance.
In 2021, he became the first Indian batsman to record four consecutive centuries in List A cricket: it happened in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He ended the tournament as the second-highest run-scorer behind Prithvi Shaw.
With all the achievements and accolades in place, the big India ticket came last month when he was selected in a relatively new-look squad for the limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka. His exploits in the past have been noticed and his temperament and potential have helped him reach the international stage.
The absence of regular players on the Sri Lanka tour also puts him in a position to cement himself as a back-up opener. The influx of talent in Indian cricket has never been greater and the Sri Lanka series could just be the opportunity for Devdutt to announce his arrival on the international stage.
The upcoming limited-overs tour is a great opportunity for Devdutt to showcase his skills at the top of the order and demonstrate that he is ready to take on challenges at the highest level. Playing in the Indian T20 League does condition one mentally to the pressures of international cricket and Devdutt is more or less the finished article on that count.
Coming from the state of Karnataka with its rich share of cricketing legacy, the Sri Lanka tour could be a big stepping stone for Devdutt to further his career. On the evidence of what he has done so far, one can expect him to make the most of this golden opportunity.
Featured photo : Devdutt Padikkal / Twitter