IPL 2023: Rajasthan Royals’ ‘shocking’ decisions behind Devdutt Padikkal’s failure?

In the following season, he scored 411 runs in 14 matches at an average of 31.61 and a strike rate of 125.30. Padikkal moved to Rajasthan Royals (RR) for the 2022 edition of the and scored 376 in 17 matches. His strike rate and average dipped to 122.87 and 22.11 respectively.

He is going through a horrendous start to the IPL 2023 now. The first two matches have seen him struggle like never before. He was castled by Umran Malik after scoring two runs off five balls against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the first match.

In the second match against Punjab Kings (PBKS) he struggled for 26 balls to score 21 at a strike rate of 80.76. The innings hurt Rajasthan as they fell five runs short of the 198-run target.

This has happened before at RR

Padikkal’s time at Rajasthan reminds one of Robin Uthappa who came to Rajasthan ahead of IPL 2022 after a very strong and consistent six season with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). However, he flunked terribly at RR scoring 196 runs in 12 matches at an average of 16.33.

Uthappa faced something which Padikkal is facing now at the Rajasthan-based franchise. He wasn’t given his usual opening and was experimented on multiple positions. Likewise, Padikkal – primarily a top-order batter – is playing in the middle-order for Rajasthan.

The 22-year-old might be out of form as apart from a century against Jharkhand in February, he did not score much in the domestic circuit as well. In his last outing in the semi-final of the Ranji Trophy against Saurashtra, he was dismissed for 9 and 7 in the two innings.

In the first match Hyderabad pacer bowled full length deliveries to him. The Rajasthan bowlers did the same, consistently pitching the ball on fourth and fifth stump. Even the spinners have bowled outside off to him. At times he has been seen getting late to play the full lengths ball drifting towards leg.

Not being able to score on tracks tailor-made for batters is enough to prove that Padikkal is low on confidence and allowing him to bat up the order – a familiar spot which fetched him Emerging Player of the Season award in IPL 2020, can be the best possible way to lend support to the youngster.

How experts have reacted to RR’s treatment of Padikkal?

“The ideal batting order for RR would be if they want to keep backing Devdutt Padikkal, then he can’t be batting at No.4 because it is tough for somebody who opens the innings to find form batting at No.4. There is Sanju Samson who could make the sacrifice and bat at No.4, which he has done in the past and is a good enough player to do that,” Manjrekar has told ESPNcricinfo.

With Jos Buttler injured and pushed down the order against Punjab in Guwahati on Wednesday, there was an opportunity for Rajasthan to send Padikkal to open with Yashasvi Jaiswal. But Ravichandran Ashwin was instead sent. The decision has baffled many experts and former crickters.

“The decision to open innings with R Ashwin was a questionable move, you could have gone with Devdutt Padikkal (if Buttler wasn’t completely ready to open due to the injury he sustained while fielding). Padikkal scored runs in the IPL opening batting (for RCB) but he isn’t looking comfortable in the batting position Rajasthan have slotted him in.”

“Since I have played for Rajasthan and I know for a fact that many of their decisions are surprising. R Ashwin opening the batting instead of going with a genuine opener in Padikkal in this game proved it again. Ashwin didn’t score a single run off the four balls he faced. Such decisions after a period of time are shocking, not surprising,” ex-cricketer Rajat Bhatia told Cricbuzz.

Aakash Chopra has reckoned that batting performances are “deeply intertwined” with batting in T20s and within no time can a batsman become an average or even a poor player because of it.

Rajasthan Royals, who are coahed by a former left-hand opener Kumar Sangakkara themselves, play their next match against Delhi Capitals (DC) on Saturday and eyes will again be on Padikkal and his batting position in the match. A confident and firing Padikkal would be crucial in RR’s IPL 2023 campaign.

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