Though Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) failed to lift maiden IPL title yet again, they returned home from the UAE with a few positives. 20-year-old Devdutt Padikkal's batting at the top was arguably the biggest asset for the Virat Kohli-led side. Padikkal, in his debut IPL season, stole the limelight and bagged the ‘Emerging Player’ award this year.
Not only did Padikkal finish the season as RCB's highest run-scorer with 473 runs, but he also surpassed skipper Kohli and AB de Villiers in the run-scorers list. The Karnataka lad scored at an average of 31.53 and also added five half-centuries under his belt.
Following his batting exploits against Mumbai Indians (MI), Padikkal revealed that he got a 'special' text message from de Villiers. Padikkal had slammed a 45-ball 74 against the defending champions.
“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 , 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.”
Padikkal also had a stellar domestic season, finishing as the highest run-getter in both the Vijay Hazare 50-over tournament and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. By offering consistency at the top, Padikkal has quickly become a key part of the Bangalore side's set-up. The left-hander also pointed out the 'mental side of the game', which is all about handling pressure in crunch situations.
“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.
“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," said Padikkal.