The importance of Devdutt Padikkal and other youngsters to the IPL

While the Indian Premier League is synonymous for star performances from longstanding, household names in international and domestic T20 cricket, it also frequently unearths young talent that – for the most part – go onto become big players in the global game.

Gone are the days of only the Chris Gayles, Mahendra Singh Dhonis and other veterans of the IPL cracking the headlines. Nowadays, there is plenty to be said to the contributions of the Ravi Bishnois, DevduttPadikkals and other upstarts to the brand and cricketing value of the IPL.

At just 21 years old, Padikkal has become entirely key to the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s top order. He has been opening the batting alongside captain Virat Kohli, who has been marvellously impressed by the calculated left-hander’s solid shot selection and inventive stroke play.

Padikkal’s talent was exemplified by a masterful century against the Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede Stadium in the IPL earlier this year. His 101 not out  from a mere 52 balls was lined with 11 fours and six sixes. The entire innings was compiled during an unbroken 181-run partnership alongside Kohli, as RCB romped to a 10-wicket win over 2008’s inaugural champions. Some of Padikkal’s striking was reminiscent of Yuvraj Singh during that innings.

Devdutt Padikkal in IPL
Devdutt Padikkal in IPL

“It was an outstanding innings. Devdutt batted really well for his first season last time as well. There was a bit of a talk about accelerating after 40 or 50, this was the best way to put it to rest,” Kohli said at the time.

“He is a great talent, great one to look forward in the future. I had the best seat in the house. My role was different and I wanted to hang in there. In the end, I picked my spots, the pitch was good. We spoke about it – the ton. He said finish it off. He said there could be many more to come, I told him ‘you tell me that after you get the first one.’

“I want him to build from here and really help the team. He deserved to get the ton – flawless innings.”

The 2021 IPL will resume on 19 September, when Bangalore will restart their pursuit of a maiden IPL title. They have reached a few finals, but lost them all. They are currently third in the eight-team standings, with the Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings positioned first and second, respectively. The best cricket betting sites in India have the three teams priced among the favourites for the 2021 title. For example, Betway have CSK offered at 3.5, DC 3.75 and RCB 5.0. The other five teams in contention have significantly longer odds.

The IPL is not reserved for rearing only Indian youngsters either. Take, for instance, South Africa’s Marco Jansen. The 21-year-old fast bowler hadn’t yet been picked in the Proteas Test, ODI or T20I XI at the time of writing, but had already debuted for the Mumbai Indians. Head coach Mahela Jayawardene and the rest of the Mumbai brains trust saw enough talent in Jansen to blood him at the start of the IPL 2021. He proved relatively successful and could be key to the remainder of their campaign – and quest for a sixth title. Some have likened Jansen’s pace to that of Pat Cummins of KKR.

“I just want to get to know them as people and from there on, try and tap into their cricket brains as much as possible, especially with Trent Boult, JaspritBumrah, all those guys. Try and ask them as many questions as possible and just enjoy the experience. It’s not every day that a youngster who is 20 years old gets picked in the IPL, so I just want to go there with an open mind and enjoy every moment,” said Jansen earlier this year.

You can look forward to seeing Jansen, Padikkal, Akash Singh, Bhagath Varma, Prithvi Shaw and other IPL youngsters soon enough.