Born in Madhya Pradesh, with a Gujarati surname, playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) against Lucknow Super Giants team at the Indian Premier League (IPL) at Kolkata on Wednesday — it couldn’t have got more pan-Indian than Rajat Patidar.
In February this year, Rajat Patidar went unsold at the IPL auction. But Lady Luck hadn’t abandoned him. He was called in as a replacement for the injured Luvinth Sisodia midway through the season. And, in Wednesday’s Eliminator encounter, he won the Player of the Match award.
“To be honest, we didn’t expect these fireworks from him,” says Rajat’s father Manohar Patidar, who watched the match on TV with his wife. We thought he would score about 50 runs but we were pleasantly surprised by his ton,” he told DC over the phone from Indore.
Incidentally, this was Rajat’s first hundred in a T-20 match — the icing on the cake was that he remained unbeaten at 112 off 54 balls, and the total included 7 sixes and 12 fours.
“We were a bit disappointed when he was out in the nineties in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last year, but that disappointment was erased by a message from Virat Kohli welcoming him into the IPL team,” recalled Manohar, who is in the business of selling pumps and other machines.
“My son had a dream of playing the IPL. The RCB team has always been his favourite because of Virat Kohli. Luckily, he got a chance to play with him,” Rajat’s father shared.
This year Patidar was one of the many uncapped players who registered for the IPL 2022 mega-auction. Since he had a decent outing with the RCB last year, many fans expected him to earn an IPL deal this year as well, but that happened only when he was signed by the frachise as a replacement for Sisodia.
Virat Kohli seemed to be happiest man in the RCB dug out when Rajat made his century. Kohli jumped off his seat and gestured animatedly at the terrific on-side six which brought up Patidar’s hundred. RCB beat LSG by 14 runs in the encounter.
Rajat’s older sister was a college professor before her marriage, but for Rajat, cricket was the sole focus. “Even before the IPL began in 2008, Rajat, 14 then, was focussed on the T-20s. Even after a reconstruction surgery to his right knee in 2014, he did not give up hope of playing the game,” says Manohar, while laughing at the suggestion that his son’s name be changed from Rajat (meaning ‘silver’) to Gold!
According to Rajat’s childhood coach Ram Atee at the Vijay Cricket Club in Indore, he is an extremely shy person.