It was the 17th over of the match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals. RCB were only 8 runs away from an easy victory. Mustafizur was the one given the impossible task of turning the tables around in favor of RR. He looked hopeless, even crestfallen at times. It felt as though he was weighed down by the magnitude of the endeavor conferred upon him. It felt as if he dreaded bowling against the youngster at the other end of the crease.
Facing him stood Devdutt Padikkal, at the brink of an incredible century, full of confidence and vigor. He had been ruthless, and this ball was no different. He drilled the ball past extra cover, a shot that manifested all that was Padikkal-Esque about the innings.
That four was the final point he had to make, and with that, he grabbed his maiden hundred. He raised his bat swiftly looking at the skies. The stands erupted. RCB players were up on their feet, applauding. Even Sanju Samson, the opposition captain, couldn't veil a nod of acknowledgment.
IPL continues to unearth Indian talent
The century came as a relief and boost to Padikkal as he missed the opening match of the season due to Covid and looked out of touch in previous matches. It took him just 51 balls to complete the century. Even in the face of a decent target of 177, RCB, whether it was Kohli or Padikkal, barely flinched. The ease with which they chased that target is alarming for RR, and just another milestone for RCB who are undefeated this season. Above all, the return to form of their opening batsman is another matter of rejoicing for high-flying Bangalore.
Padikkal's innings will be remembered, not just because he scored a century with such ease, but the quality and class he displayed while doing so. Aged just 20, Padikkal is surely one for the future, as Kohli remarked after the match.
"He is a great talent, great one to look forward in the future. I had the best seat in the house," Kohli said.
There was a tinge of gallantry entailed in his innings, crowned with an almost fairytale-like enticement as well as fabled finesse and a heroic century to show off along with it.
The future looks bright for the Indian team, with players like Padikkal frequently coming to the fore, illustrating all that is good about the IPL.