Virat Kohli and Rajat Patidar (Image Credits: IPL)
Virat Kohli and Rajat Patidar (Image Credits: IPL)

Like millions of young budding cricketers in India, Indore-born Rajat Patidar has been dreaming of making his India debut. On Sunday, the 29-year-old took one step closer to turning his dream into a reality as he received his maiden ODI call-up to the Indian squad for the three-match ODI series against South Africa.

The last four-five years have been a roller coaster journey for the stylish right-hander. From being Madhya Pradesh’s leading run-scorer with 713 runs in eight matches in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy to the lows of IPL 2021, where he could score only 71 runs in four matches for RCB, Patidar has seen it all.

As it is known, Rajat was expected to get married on May 9 after he went unsold in IPL 2022 mega auction following his poor return in the previous season. However, after Luvnith Sisodia was ruled with an injury, Patidar was named as a replacement by RCB. As fate had it, he went on to amass 333 runs in seven innings, scoring at 55.50 with a splendid strike rate of 152.75.

Virat Kohli and Rajat Patidar
Virat Kohli and Rajat Patidar (Photo: BCCI)

With his unbeaten knock of 54-ball 112 in the Eliminator of IPL 2022 against Lucknow Super Giants, Patidar announced himself on the big stage, making people turn heads and notice him. Even the great Virat Kohli claimed he hasn’t seen many better innings than what Patidar played that day at the iconic Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Under pressure, in the Eliminator of the IPL, Patidar showed that he possesses what is required to deliver on the big stage.

From there on, Patidar hasn’t looked back, not only in white-ball formats but also in the red-ball version as he has found new crescendos in his batting and he wouldn’t want to ever come down. He played an instrumental role in taking Madhya Pradesh to Ranji Trophy glory for the first time in the tournament’s history, scoring 112 in the first innings and following it with an unbeaten 30 in the second dig in the final clash against 41-time champions, Mumbai. 

Patidar went to swiftly continue his domestic circuit form against New Zealand A in the unofficial three-match Test series. He scored a magnum opus knock of 176 runs in the first Test and backed it up with another fine knock of 109 runs in the third game, which helped the hosts win by 113 runs. The right-hander finished as the second-highest run-getter of the series, scoring 319 runs in four innings at a Bradmanesque average of 106.33.

Dinesh Karthik Rajat Patidar
Dinesh Karthik Rajat Patidar. Image Credits: Twitter

In an exclusive chat with CricketAddictor, Rajat Patidar spoke about how it feels to get his maiden call-up, what is like to share the dressing room with Virat Kohli and much more.

Excerpts:

Q- It is a dream of every player to get their maiden call-up. How does it feel to get to finally get it?

A – Of course, it feels great because everybody has this dream of playing for the country. At the same time, I am feeling really excited to play under the captaincy of Shikhar bhai, who is very experienced. So it will be a great learning for me while playing under him.

Q – You didn’t have a great run in IPL 2021 but you were able to turn the tables in the next season. What did you change in IPL 2022, did you make any changes to your technique?

A – I didn’t alter my technique too much. My plan was to play my shots freely, which I was successfully able to do. In 2022, as the tournament was held in Maharashtra, the pitches were quick and fast, and my strength is to time the ball as I am not a big hitter of the ball, I believe the tracks also helped me play my natural game. 

Q – You have had the exposure of playing alongside Virat Kohli and stitching a couple of crucial partnerships for RCB with him. What it is like to play and share the dressing room with Kohli?

A – Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are my idols. Playing with Virat Kohli and creating partnerships with him has been really special. Even off the field, if I go to him to talk about my batting, he is always helpful. Getting a chance to share the dressing room with your idols, which not everybody gets in their life, is really special. There are a lot of learnings that I have gotten from him, both on and off the field. 

Q – What type of advice does Virat Kohli give you?

A – He always asks me to back my game and also shares his point of view on my batting. He tries to give me some pointers, which I try to add to my batting to improve my overall game. 

Q – You had a great run in the domestic circuit where you played a key role in taking Madhya Pradesh to Ranji Trophy triumph. You were able to continue the same form against New Zealand A. How much confidence it has given you?

Rajat Patidar
Rajat Patidar. Image: Twitter

A – It is very important for a batter to score runs consistently and this is the only way by which you can gain your confidence. But at the same time, I don’t judge myself on the scores. Whenever I feel I am in a good position to hit the ball, I try to back myself and that feeling gives me more confidence. 

Q- Which player do you admire the most and why in cricket as well as other sport?

A – When I was young, I used to admire Sachin (Tendulkar) sir and Rahul (Dravid) sir. Right now, there is Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma because they all are perfect players for all formats and have performed consistently for the national team. 

Exclusive: “There Are A Lot Of Learnings That I Have Got After Playing With Virat Kohli” - Rajat Patidar After His Maiden ODI Call-Up Exclusive: “There Are A Lot Of Learnings That I Have Got After Playing With Virat Kohli” - Rajat Patidar After His Maiden ODI Call-Up Exclusive: “There Are A Lot Of Learnings That I Have Got After Playing With Virat Kohli” - Rajat Patidar After His Maiden ODI Call-Up Exclusive: “There Are A Lot Of Learnings That I Have Got After Playing With Virat Kohli” - Rajat Patidar After His Maiden ODI Call-Up

In other sports, I admire Cristiano Ronaldo because he has always been on the top for so long. Every time he has this hunger to stay at the top of the game. The way he handles his training and routine and his work ethic are just incredible. Every time he wants to fight for the top position, this mindset to always win is really inspirational.

Also Read: India Squad For South Africa ODIs Announced, Rajat Patidar Gets Maiden Call Up

Gautam Chauhan

Cricket is my first love. I want to be a wordsmith. I want to weave magic with my words.