After an outstanding run in the recent Cooch Behar under-19 Trophy, Karnataka’s Devdutt Padikkal has been rewarded with a spot in the India under-19 four-day and one-day teams to tour Sri Lanka next month.

Padikkal racked up 829 runs to finish as the fourth highest run-scorer in the tournament. A match-winning 185 against a tough Mumbai team and a 208 against Assam served as the highlights of his campaign.

The left-handed batsman first picked up a bat at the age of nine and instantly fell in love with the sport. “My father bought me that bat. As soon as I felt the bat in my hand, I was hooked,” Padikkal said.

Padikkal grew up in Hyderabad and moved to Bengaluru with his family when he was 11. A string of good performances for St. Joseph's Boys' High School here earned him a place in the Karnataka under-14 team. “After I got picked for the State team, I started to take the game seriously,” Padikkal said.

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Padikkal, who is now set to join St. Joseph’s College of Commerce here, counts Sachin Tendulkar as his idol. Incidentally, Tendulkar’s son, Arjun Tendulkar, is also part of the India under-19 four-day squad. “Arjun is a good friend of mine. We got along well at the amp in Dharamshala last month,” Padikkal stated.

It was a dream come true when the Master Blaster visited the camp. “Sachin gave us a group talk at Dharamshala. He spoke about things like focussing on the ball and enjoying the game. I took a photo with him. Meeting Sachin ranks as one of the most exciting moments of my life,” Padikkal stated.

The Bengalurean, who plays for Jawans CC in the KSCA league, added,“My coaches at KIOC, Irfan Sait and Naseeruddin, have shaped my game, and my parents have supported me in every way."