Ind vs SA 1st ODI 2022

Rajat Patidar’s journey from Indore to the Indian team was fast. In February, it went unsold at the IPL auction. But instead of wallowing in self-pity, he scrambled up and promised to have a year to remember. It is this promise that he has fulfilled as he is on the cusp of the India cap.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” Patidar told BCCI.tv of his call. “The IPL was the turning point for me. But I feel like I can play all three formats. I try to focus on the processes [of the formats] otherwise. I want to keep myself in the present and play according to the demands of the team.”

At 27, Patidar understands selection and punch are two faces of the same coin. Whatever that boring cliché may be, according to Patidar, it’s as simple as mastering the controlables—and for him, that’s scoring runs.

A week after his IPL stop, Patidar hit 50 in a match that Madhya Pradesh won over Gujarat. He finished the competition phase of the Ranji Trophy with 335 runs at 83.75, with no score under 53. Those runs translated into a knockout place for MP.

After helping MP to Ranji’s quarter-finals, he received a call from Mike Hesson in early April asking if he was available as Royal Challengers Bangalore needed a replacement.

Patidar was finishing up his wedding preparations in May, but it was something he gladly put off being a part of the IPL.

Within 24 hours of the call, he was on a plane to Mumbai, and a few weeks later became the first unbounded Indian to play in a play-off match for a century. That knock in Eden Gardens against Lucknow Super Giants was followed by half a century in Qualifier-2 against Rajasthan Royals.

Patidar finished his second IPL season with 333 runs with a strike rate of 152.75. It marked his coming of age. After playing in relative anonymity for nearly seven years, he stood firm in the national consciousness.

It is this form on which he has built. A week after IPL ended, he was part of MP’s march to their first Ranji title. He scored 323 runs in the knockout stage, including a century in the final; along the way, he had crossed half a century in every knockout match.

Most recently, he struck two centuries in three first-class matches against New Zealand A. It became even more special as it was his first stint at India A. This dream run that began in February culminated in his call-up in India last week. Much of this run-scoring spree is down to how he “feels”; And it’s not just about technique.

“Especially when you’re talking about batting, but I don’t judge myself by performance either,” he had said after the Ranji final. “I need to get that hitting feeling – the shots are good, the balance is there, the head is in the right position. Until I don’t get that feeling, I don’t feel like I’m in good shape. Obviously it is Every batsman’s job is to score runs, but for me, when I feel good about my batting, the runs come automatically.”

“He came to talk to me himself. It was nice talking to him, he appreciated my performances and wished me the best for my future.”

Patidar on his interactions with India’s stand-in Captain Shikhar Dhawan

He learned the feeling he speaks about by taking a closer look at AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik.

“Virat, AB – they were all my idols; experienced international players,” he said. “I felt a bit overwhelmed when I first met them. It was a great moment to talk to them for the first time. Watching them all train and bat in the nets taught me a lot about how they play their cricket to approach.”

Fast forward to this Monday when he had his first full practice with the senior national team. He was received in a huddle by stand-in coach VVS Laxman, who underlined why he had come this far. Laxman is believed to have appreciated Patidar’s temperament and appetite for runs. Dhawan, the captain, then spoke to Patidar about his potential.

“Legendary players, when they welcome you to the huddle, it feels motivating,” Patidar said with a smile, reflecting on his first day in office. “It felt good, I know a lot of the guys. But this is my first time playing with Shikhar… [Dhawan] bhai; In fact, I had a conversation with him myself the first time here.

“I thought what it would be like if I talk to him, [and] how can i talk to him but he himself came to talk to me. It was nice talking to him, he appreciated my performances and wished me the best for my future.”

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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