Patidar's redemption

The redemption arc of Patidar puts RCB’s sails up.

The Delhi Capitals did themselves no favours by blowing up to four opportunities in the course of eleven balls. Rajat Patidar scored three of them, finishing with 52 off 32 to become just the third Indian player in IPL history to smash five fifty-score runs in a season for Royal Challengers Bengaluru.

This is the kind of luck Patidar would have loved to have during his brutal Test series against England earlier this year. Arrived as a batter with a strong domestic record up until that point, what he displayed on the pitch was a diluted form of the player for whom he had gained notoriety. He was dismissed in six innings using off-spin, legspin, and left-arm orthodox pitches, among other methods. With just 63 runs scored, he showed very little of the reputation he had developed as one of the finest spin players in the Indian domestic circuit.

Patidar had remarked, looking back on that series, “I can’t change the past, for me it’s important to stay in the present and do the best that I can do for the team.” It’s a motto that has helped him tremendously in the 2024 Indian Premier League, which has once again made a compelling case for his reputation to be restored.

Patidar failed to demonstrate the respect that they should have against Delhi Capitals, who have two of India’s top spinners in the format and perhaps the strongest spin attack in the league right now. He lofted the second ball he faced off Kuldeep Yadav for a six, then he did the same with the second ball he faced off Axar Patel over long on. He pulled Axar for another six, showcasing his ability to appear to shorten lengths that weren’t actually that long.

Just before the final powerplay finished, these hits gave RCB a significant luxury. The fact that Glenn Maxwell, their finest spin hitter, had taken a self-initiated hiatus and was out of form had not helped their position. They had to make the connection between the lower-order flourishes led by Dinesh Karthik and the top-order rejuvenation spearheaded by Virat Kohli. One of those voids was more than satisfactorily supplied by Will Jacks, who also made it possible for Patidar to succeed in a similar manner.

This season, Patidar has hit five fifties, all coming from the No. 4 spot in a batting order that has finally settled into a groove. In addition to giving Patidar a chance to demonstrate his strengths, the manner RCB assembled their lineup gave them a clear goal.

This season, Patidar’s ability to hit spin has been so good that he may be argued to be the finest middle-order batsman in India against that suit. Some statistics to support it include the fact that, together with Abhishek Sharma, it has the most sixes against spin (20). When facing spin, Patidar also averages 91. However, his season-long difference from others of his calibre has been his stratospheric strike-rate of 224.69. As a result, he is now the most successful six-hitter in the middle overs (7 to 15), with as many as 26—far more than the next greatest player, Riyan Parag, who only has 20.

According to Patidar, this surge is the outcome of a deliberate choice to bat in the middle order. “I think I’ve done too much of batting in the top order,” he’d stated. This function made Patidar’s primary duty easier in several respects. “I believe you have some extra cushion if you’re at the front of the order. However, you lose that additional cushion if you bowl around the tenth or eleventh over. Thus, you must act quickly when making your choice.”

The comeback of Patidar as a middle-order striker has been a great fit for RCB’s tournament trajectory. During RCB’s five-match winning streak, he has scored three fifties, and another one was crucial in helping them reach within one run of a 220+ chase. His dismissal of legspinner Suyash Sharma and a brief match against Sunil Narine also demonstrated a particular skill being used well.

Patidar reduces this somewhat advanced skill set to a simple one. “For me, it’s important to pick from the hands, that’s my main strength.”

During a time when RCB has discovered that the going gets sweeter with each game, Patidar’s recipes are among the best. And they would be happy to have one more serving, or more.