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Rajat Patidar is in the business of scoring runs, and he's not letting up anytime soon

Last updated on 27 Jun 2022 | 05:35 PM
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Rajat Patidar is in the business of scoring runs, and he's not letting up anytime soon

From the disappointment of missing out in the IPL auctions to hitting the runs that won Madhya Pradesh the Ranji Trophy, it's been a dream season for the batter

On February 13, Rajat Patidar witnessed the second day of the IPL 2022 mega auction go by, with no bids for him. Going unsold for the IPL was surprising, and a little disappointing. It’s a mark of the kind of person Patidar is, that by February 17, when the Ranji Trophy resumed after a year’s break, Patidar made twin fifties against Gujarat, in a match Madhya Pradesh won outright despite conceding the first-innings lead. He would end the league phase with 335 runs and an average of 83.75, with no score below 53.

Patidar has mastered the art of remaining unruffled. “That’s my strength: I keep myself cool and calm, no matter the situation,” Patidar says.

Which is why, he won’t be letting out roars on reaching centuries – something he’s been doing fairly often this year. And he remained relatively calm even when he was hitting the runs that won Madhya Pradesh the Ranji Trophy – for the first time as Madhya Pradesh.

“For the winning run, the thought was that, ‘Okay, I’ve got the ball in an area that I can score off, so convert it.’ The moment was huge, but I was calm inside,” Patidar says. “When the run was completed and we went from 107 to 108, then I felt, ‘Finally, we have done it’.”

Madhya Pradesh had indeed done it, but so had Patidar. From hitting crucial runs days after not being picked in the IPL till that winning hit in front of point that signaled MP had won the Ranji Trophy, Patidar switched formats effortlessly and piled on the runs eye-catchingly.

In the IPL, he played his first game three weeks after joining Royal Challengers Bangalore as a replacement player and ended up with 333 runs: average 55.50, strike rate 152.75, and the first uncapped Indian to it a century in an IPL playoff game record to boot.

A week after his IPL was done, he made 323 runs in the Ranji Trophy knockouts, including a century in the final, to tally 323 runs at 80.75. Almost 1000 runs in three months of playing cricket, crossing fifty in every knockout match he played at least once, and looking like a million dollars while doing it. Patidar has served notice of his talent in the most emphatic fashion.

It was all so different when he wasn’t picked in the auctions. “I did feel a bit disappointed,” he remembers of the aftermath of the auctions. “Last year, when the first half of the IPL happened in India, my performance was not bad. The coach told me then, that I would play all the matches in Dubai at No.3. So I was ready. But when we went to Dubai, AB (de  Villiers) sir had an injury so they needed to play a wicketkeeper. So I didn’t get the chance to play. But they did tell me that they’ll pick me in the auction. Then they didn’t, so I did feel a bit, that, ‘It didn’t happen’. But I don’t really bother about all this because it’s not in my control. My attitude to it is, if it happens it happens, if not it doesn’t. I’ll do what’s in my hands.”

Patidar’s batting was of the class that even the opposition was left wowed. Mumbai coach Amol Muzumdar said after his team were beaten in the final: “He’s a class player. A superb touch player. His bat flow was really good. I enjoyed… I mean didn’t ‘enjoy’ enjoy it, but loved the way he approaches batting. It’s clean. He’s a good player and I’d like to congratulate him for getting a Ranji Trophy final hundred. Not many achieve that.”

For Patidar, his batting is not about runs, it’s about the feel. The runs are a natural by-product.

“Especially if you talk about batting, I don’t judge myself on performance,” he shares. “I need to get that batting ‘feel’ – the shots are good, the balance is there, the head is in the right position – till I don’t get that feel I don’t feel I’m in good form. Obviously it’s every batsman’s job to score runs, but for me, if I feel good about my batting the runs come automatically.”

Even his batting has his trademark calm, and it stems from a family who are laidback, where cricket might be the centre of their world but it doesn’t consume them. So much so that till about five hours after winning the final, he hadn’t even spoken to them, and that wasn’t out of the ordinary.

“I’ve not talked yet to my family!” Patidar smiled. “They will know of course, but I haven’t spoken. They don’t disturb me! (laughs) Even my fiancée doesn’t call me too much, she knows I’ll call her when I get free. But everyone follows cricket at home. The full Patidar community follows it.

“Because everything’s so relaxed at home, I don’t even talk much cricket, and they don’t talk to me too much about it either.”

It’s a family, incidentally that has a running business. But Patidar – he has one older sister who’s married – isn’t too fussed about carrying on after his father. “My father manufactures and sells machines that are related to water, pumps, the kinds you use in farms,” he shares. “I’ve never paid much attention to the family business. My father is doing it, so he’ll do whatever he feels is right. I doubt I’ll ever get into it, I’m not interested.”

Patidar doesn’t need to be interested. His business is scoring runs, and it’s one he’s thriving in.  

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