In 14 editions of the Indian Premier League, only five batters have managed to reach a triple-figure mark in the playoffs. Before Rajat Patidar made a whirlwind 112 against Lucknow Super Giants last night, no uncapped players had ever scored a century in the playoffs. It’s not easy for newbies to come to terms with the immense pressure of knockouts. 

Patidar, however, is not exactly a newbie. A domestic stalwart for Madhya Pradesh, he has played many such knocks to guide his side to improbable victories. However, since not many watch domestic cricket, his strong suit is unknown to the world. On a windy night at Eden Garden, Patidar took the world by storm with his unbeaten 112, comprising of 12 sumptuous fours and seven towering sixes. 

How Did Patidar Seal His Spot After Going Unsold In IPL 2022?

If not for Patidar’s intervention, it would have been another heartbreak for Royal Challengers Bangalore. Not so long ago, Rajat Patidar might have thought that his IPL career is all but over, after being ignored by all 10 franchises. In the preceding season, Patidar scored 71 matches in four games for Bangalore before being dropped for the rest of the season. Four matches are never enough to gauge a player’s ability, but are certainly enough to make or break your career. 

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The Patidar experiment was over for Bangalore, and this season they roped in fresh faces like Anuj Rawat and Luvnith Sisodia. It was Luvnith’s injury that paved the way for Rajat Patidar, who joined the franchise for the second stint, as a replacement player.

“I was busy after the 2021 IPL playing for my club. I wasn’t picked after the 2021 IPL but that wasn’t in my control,” said Patidar about his auction snub. 

In his second game of the season, Patidar slammed the first half-century of his IPL career, scoring 52 off 32 deliveries against Gujarat Titans. In contrast, senior players like Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis made a combined total of 58 runs in 57 balls. 

A match later, Patidar came to bat in the 13th over, and scored a 38-ball 48 to take the Royal Challengers’ to a challenging total. Two explosive cameos in the first four matches helped him nail down his spot for the rest of the season. 

How Patidar’s Ruthless Assault Knocked Lucknow Out Of IPL 2022

On Wednesday, Rajat Patidar was at his fluent best. After Faf du Plessis’ dismissal in the first over, a lot was riding on Patidar and Virat Kohli to lead the recovery. While expectations were high from Kohli, who showed flashes of brilliance in his last game, it was Patidar who carried the former skipper, giving him time and space to grow into the game. It’s another thing Kohli threw away his start, scoring 25 after consuming four overs of the game. 

Early in his innings, Patidar made clear that he will not hold himself back from cashing on the opportune moments. Twice in the fourth over, Avesh saw his short-pitched delivery caressed away to the boundary rope. In the next over, bowled by Krunal Pandya, Patidar demonstrated his impeccable range-hitting against spinners, whacking three fours and a six over long-off to finish the Powerplay on high. 

“I have been timing the ball and that was the focus, instead of powering the ball. In the last over of the powerplay, when I was facing Krunal Pandya, the way I could execute my plans, I felt I could score big today,” Patidar said.

There was a brief spell of respite for Lucknow, as Rajat Patidar struggled to find an ally for his mission. Mahipal Lomror and Glenn Maxwell got out cheaply, which left the team in a precarious position. But everything changed after Maxwell’s arrival, as the duo added 84 runs in the last five overs to put their team in a commanding position. Patidar was reprieved twice before reaching his first IPL century with a glorious six-over mid-wicket. 

“My focus was about cashing in on the opportunity and looked to play with the straight bat and time it. I don’t come under pressure even after facing dots because of the ability I know I have,” concluded Patidar.

Featured Image: @IPL