Kolkata: It’s been a happening week for Devdutt Padikkal, the gifted left-handed opening batsman whose unbeaten century had been the talk of IPL over the last few days.
A day before the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s game against Rajasthan Royals, Padikkal - along with his RCB teammate Washington Sundar - was signed by the Indian arm of German sports gear major Puma in a ‘‘long term partnership.’’ The 20-year-old now joins an illustrious roster Puma’s brand ambassadors like Virat Kohli, K.L.Rahul, multiple World Cup winner Yuvraj Singh and Sushma Verma, member of Indian women’s team.
Announcing the tie-up, Abhishek Ganguly, Managing Director of Puma India and Southeast Asia said in a statement that at Puma they are committed to promoting ‘‘new-age cricketing talent’’ in India and the RCB duo have displayed remarkable resilience and grit on the field that has led to their meteoric rise as athletes.
For someone who is still an uncapped player, the IPL 2020 season has seen a meteoric rise in Padikkal’s stocks when he emerged as the ‘Emerging Player of the IPL’ and was RCB’s highest scorer in the season with 473 runs. He followed up the impact with an amazing run for his state team Karnataka in both the domestic tournaments available - the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (T20) and Vijay Hazare Trophy (50-overs).
While he is expected to have a strong backer in Indian skipper Kohli, the reaction from the higher echeleons of Indian cricket to his century suggests that he could be a part of the Indian dressing room sooner than later.
Ravi Shastri, the Indian team’s head coach, was lavish in the youngster’s praise as well as their 181-run partnership which took the opponents to the cleaners. ‘‘The student and the master at work. Fabulous viewing. These Southpaws make it look easy,’’ Shastri said on his Twitter handle.
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Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar went a step further to say that he won’t be surprised if he sees Padikkacomesl playing for India in all formats - a cherished dream for the soft-spoken cricketer.
“I won’t be surprised if he plays for India in any of the formats because he has got the class and the ability to do that. He is a heavy scorer in first-class cricket and Ranji Trophy as well gets big hundreds. In 50-overs cricket, he gets lots of runs and hundreds. Here, in the T20 domestic tournaments, he got lots of runs. So, I won’t be surprised if he is there sooner rather than later,” Gavaskar said during his observation with the broadcasters.
Gavaskar said that Padikkal is just the latest in a long line of great batsmen to have come out of Karnataka which includes Punjab Kings captain KL Rahul. “Karnataka has always produced a terrific line of batsmen. Gundappa Vishwanath, Rahul Dravid, then KL Rahul. And if KL Rahul, you know, some of the stars need to believe in themselves a little bit more. Sometimes you get the feeling that he doesn’t believe in himself. He is such a talented player And there is Mayank Agarwal, there is Karun Nair who got a triple hundred, he also needs to get his act together. It’s a terrific batting line-up Karnataka have,” the former Indian captain added.