IPL 2022: From Auction Discards to IPL Hero – The Rajat Patidar Story

Like many of his friends, Rajat Patidar hoped to get a contract in the Indian Premier League this year. But when the franchises met for the mega sale in Bengaluru in February, none of the 10 outfits showed any interest in him.

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After playing four games for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) last year, Patidar thought the franchise might bring him back. But over a period of two days, RCB decided not to bid on him.

The blunt was disappointing for the 28-year-old batter from Indore, but he never lost hope. Barely a few days after the mega sale, he called Devendra Bundela – a former captain, coach and one of the stalwarts of domestic cricket – to do some brainwashing. The two talked for a long time, with Bundela advising his “younger brother” how to shake off the disappointment and focus on the Ranji Trophy.

‘Sincerity and dedication’

Patidar, who prefers to remain unobtrusive, followed Bundela’s advice and made sure he worked hard in the nets. “He had a set routine and even after going unsold in the auction, he made it a point to show the same sincerity and dedication during practice sessions. He knew he had to be prepared for anything that comes his way,” Bundela said sports star on Thursday.

Knowing Patidar since he was a teenager, Bundela knew that if given the chance, he could become a match winner even in the IPL. His predictions came true on Wednesday as Patidar, which was brought in by RCB in April as replacement for Luvnith Sisodia, hit an undefeated 112 against Lucknow Super Giants at Eden Gardens to finally clear the way for his team’s 14-run win in the eliminator.

As the cricket club and fans buzzed on social media to congratulate Patidar, Bundela recalled the days of his struggle. “I still remember his Ranji Trophy debut against Baroda in 2015, when I captained Madhya Pradesh. On his debut, he scored 60 runs in the first innings and then followed with a century in the second innings. It was a joy to see his percussion. Since then it has been a tough journey for him as he had to fight injuries and then strengthen his place,” said Bundela.

“But he never gave up and never stopped working hard. His commitment is extraordinary…”

Unlimited Indian players score an IPL century

To score

Contest

Year

Paul Valthaty

120 no

Kings XI Punjab v Chennai Super Kings

2011

Manish Pandey

114 no

Royal Challengers Bangalore v Deccan Chargers

2009

Rajat Patidar

112 no

Royal Challengers Bangalore v Lucknow Super Giants

2022

Devdutt Padikkal

101 no

Royal Challengers Bangalore v Rajasthan Royals

2021

While enjoying all the attention, Patidar had to postpone his wedding – originally scheduled for May – for a few months to appear in the IPL. “Rajat is a wonderful person and above all a very sincere cricketer. It wasn’t easy to consistently perform at first-class level, but he’s been doing that for years. I’m glad his efforts were finally noticed in the IPL,” Bundela said.

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Last year, he was part of RCB and played four games, scoring 71 points with an average of 17.75. While that was far from impressive, Patidar worked on his weakness and made sure to make the most of the opportunities in this edition of IPL. In the six league matches he played in, Patidar scored 163 runs, making him a regular member of the RCB side.

Patidar v Avesh

And while tearing up his Madhya Pradesh teammate Avesh Khan, former Indian international and former coach at Madhya Pradesh Cricket Academy, Amay Khurasiya watched the match on television and reminisced.

“It was a strange feeling. It’s always good to see when your wards are doing well and while Rajat was raging. He went hammer and pliers with Avesh, who is also a student of mine. It was very good to see how two students made their presence felt in the IPL. God has been very kind that Rajat dealt such a great blow,” Khurasiya said.

At a time when not many believed in Patidar’s abilities and doubted his talent, Amay Khurasiya (pictured) played an important role in reshaping his career. – VIVEK BENDRE (FILE)

At a time when not many believed in Patidar’s abilities and doubted his talent, Khurasiya played an important role in reshaping his career. “When he was removed from the system, I worked with him. I’m glad God gave us that sadbuddhi that there’s something in this kid and we need to work with him. We knew we were supporting the right person. We have always been interested in commitment and character. Rajat had those two qualities in-house and once we were sure of that, all we had to do was work on the technical qualities. We’ve been working on that,” Khurasiya explained.

“The technical part was arranged and he worked very well with it…”

In those few years, Khurasiya was able to build that trust, playing the role of mentor to Patidar, Avesh and the likes of Kuldeep Sen. “You have to work diligently and work towards your goals and strive for the greater goal. The moment you enter that time zone, the preparation will speak. If you become disillusioned with the current state of affairs from outside sectors, you miss out when the opportunity presents itself…” he said.

And that’s a philosophy, he always preached his departments.

Khurasiya also remembers hitting for Patidar when he worked as a talent scout for Kings XI Punjab a few years ago. “I wrote them a note talking about Rajat and Kuldeep. I watched them during the one-day and suggested the team pick them, but that never happened. Today they are certainly doing as well for other teams…”

‘Hardworking boy’

Although the Punjab outfit did not show much interest in Patidar and Sen, they continued to work hard. Former BCCI Secretary and former National Selector Sanjay Jagdale recalls the time when Patidar had fallen out of favor with the Madhya Pradesh selectors. “He would play for Vijay Club and some of their members – including Ram Atre – reached out to me and said I would look at this boy. I saw him and was impressed. I asked the MPCA selectors to give him a ​give him a fair chance and eventually he could prove his mettle,” said Jagdale.

Patidar was a thrower, but has become one of the main hitters of his state team, having played in 39 first-class games so far, collecting 2,588 runs. “He is a hard working lad and once he got into the woods he emerged as one of the best MP batters in all sizes. He even scored a century in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, but then nobody noticed,” added Jagdale.

“A few years ago he had knee surgery and since then he is fitter and more consistent. He is a real talent,” said the experienced driver.

Naman Ojha, one of Patidar’s senior teammates, is also pleased with the way he has progressed. “Rajat was brilliant from the start. He had a great time and I wish him the best for the future,” said Ojha, a former cricketer in India.

After leading RCB into second qualifier, Harshal Patel admitted Patidar was a “special player” and ahead of Friday’s knockout match against Rajasthan Royals, the team are hoping he will perform well again.

From being unsold to beating the Super Giants, life is indeed round for Patidar.

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