Rajat Patidar went unsold during the Indian Premier League mega sale in February. However, the Madhya Pradesh batter was brought in by Royal Challengers Bangalore to replace Luvnith Sisodia, at a later stage in the tournament.
The 28-year-old had a modest appearance in six group matches, scoring 163 points. However, Patidar played the innings of his life at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday, hammering an unbeaten 112 from 54 deliveries to lead the Royal Challengers Bangalore to 207-4 in the eliminator against Lucknow Super Giants, eventually paving the way for the 14 – run win.
Patidar went into action at a time when the team had lost its captain Faf du Plessis, with just four runs on the board, Patidar forged a 66-run stand with Virat Kohli and even after the India international’s departure, Patidar made it best of a reprieve and went on to score his first century in the tournament. He also built a 92-run fifth wicket partnership with Dinesh Karthik to ensure the team crossed the 200-run mark, which proved sufficient in the end.
Ahead of the second qualifier against Rajasthan Royals in Ahmedabad on Friday, Patidar’s form is a boost for RCB’s batting division. “I don’t really need to say anything about the way he played. We see this caliber in the exhibition games. Even last year when he was with us he had a few chances but couldn’t do justice to his talent and caliber. We knew that he was a special player. When he came in as a substitute this year, he looked determined,” said Harshal Patel, one of the architects of RCB’s victory.
“He is quite introverted and does his business calmly. We knew what kind of contribution he can make to the team and we are extremely proud of Rajat. Hopefully he can deliver a few more blows like this…”
Who is Rajat Patidar, RCB player who crushed 100 of 49 balls in Eliminator vs LSG
Defending 207, Royal Challengers Bangalore needed a disciplined effort from their bowling unit and Josh Hazlewood and Harshal kept the Super Giants batters from making too many big shots, despite KL Rahul and Deepak Hooda being in the fold. When he came back from injury, Harshal had to be careful. “Fortunately, I didn’t have to change my skill because the skin has healed well superficially. So I could bowl my slower deliveries and whatever I wanted. We tried everything in practice yesterday and I bowled 30-40 deliveries. I was pretty sure this would hold as long as I don’t get another impact. I didn’t have to make any changes, luckily it’s cured…”
While admitting there was nothing to do on the surface, a drizzle before the toss forced the groundsmen to cover the entire arena, resulting in a bit of moisture in the outfield. And while observing the Lucknow bowlers, Harshal realized that the short and slower deliveries were not on the bat. “To me that was an indication that I want to get in the field as short and as slow as I can and then mix it up with a Yorker or a good hard ball. I wanted to throw slower deliveries in these kinds of wickets because if you counted on tempo , it was easy to score…” said Harshal.
There was a time when Super Giants needed 35 runs from 18 deliveries and then Harshal struck. “I was nervous because you are defending 35 out of 18. When there was a walk and they got six runs, I realized the wide yorker couldn’t get through today. So I thought it was better to follow the plan that worked for me in the first two overs. The idea was to get KL and Stoinis out, luckily we succeeded…”
After two months of non-stop cricket in Mumbai and Pune, the teams had very little time to adapt to the conditions in Kolkata, and with RCB traveling to Ahmedabad with high hopes, Harshal knows it would be his target to “assess the circumstances early and adapt to the situation…