Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Promising batter Devdutt Padikkal has made his Test debut for Team India in the fifth and final Test against England in Dharamsala on Thursday. The left-handed batsman replaced injured Rajat Patidar, who caught up an injury on the eve of the match.

The Karnataka batter was called up to the Indian team as a replacement for his state team-mate KL Rahul. Rahul was ruled out after the second Test following a quadricep injury.

It has been an inspiring journey for Padikkal who a few months ago was appeared lost among India’s vast talent pool of batsmen.

Padikkal was in and out of hospital for months in 2022 due to a health issue. In the process, he lost a few kilos and eventually struggled to find his feet in the middle. His performance in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 was also not that impressive. However, he has taken a long stride since then.

Following an exceptional Ranji Trophy season this year, the aggressive southpaw has been rewarded for his consistency. He has garnered a total of 556 runs in six innings at an average of 92.66 this Ranji season. He has also hit three centuries, with a highest score of 193 in the season opener against Punjab.

Padikkal impressed the selectors when he scored 151 against Tamil Nadu at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. With the chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar from the stands, the left-handed batter notched up his third Ranji Trophy century of the season.

Earlier, the Karnataka batsman had also impressed the selectors with scores of 65, 21 and 105 for India A against the touring England Lions in Ahmedabad. He also has a very good first class record with an average of 44.54 across 31 matches.

Well, behind the unprecedented emergence of Padikkal, there is a unique training programme designed by a best cricketing brain and he is no other than Rajasthan Royals Team Director Zubin Bharucha.

“Devdutt was the guy, who just used to play 15-20 minutes, that was his philosophy. He started batting for two or three hours, started working on the various aspects of his game. You can see the difference in his performance in the domestic cricket,” said Bharucha.