Shortly after Madhya Pradesh defeated Odisha by six wickets in a Vijay Hazare Trophy fixture at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, Rajat Patidar walked up to Chandrakant Pandit for a chat.
Patidar, a seasoned campaigner, did not have a memorable outing, dismissed by Rajesh Mohanty for a solitary run.
As the Madhya Pradesh head coach analysed his footwork, Patidar nodded his head in agreement. “We talk to him in detail - be it batting, bowling or fielding. When you speak to him, a lot of things get cleared in your head,” Patidar said after their discussion.
“Whenever anyone goes through a tough situation, we talk to sir and together, we come out with a solution.”
Riding on Kuldeep Sen’s four-wicket haul (four for 28), Madhya Pradesh restricted Odisha to 172 before Shubham Sharma and Abhishek Bhandari scored half-centuries to guide the team home. Pandit, soon after, had a team huddle to keep his boys focussed on the next hurdle.
After hammering a 62 against Jammu and Kashmir in the campaign opener, Patidar faltered against Odisha, but the seasoned campaigner wants to continue the ‘process’.
He will be touring Bangladesh with the Indian team for the ODI series next month, but the batter from Indore hasn’t set any targets for the tour. “I have not set any targets. I want to follow my regular game plan and go out there with a clear mindset in terms of my batting,” he said.
“It is everyone’s dream to play for India, and now that I have got a chance to don the India colours, I would like to adjust to the conditions and play according to the situation and give my 100 per cent whenever an opportunity comes my way.”
Even though he was picked for the home ODI series against South Africa last month, Patidar did not get a chance to feature in the final XI, but those few days with the Indian team was a learning experience for the 29-year-old. “It was a good learning experience because there were a lot of senior players like Shikhar bhai (Dhawan). I got to spend a lot of time with Laxman sir (VVS Laxman) and learned quite a few new things in terms of batting. He (Laxman) made me realise how to analyse your game and improve off-the-field planning,” Patidar explained.
“When you watch the senior players closely, you get to understand how they prepare before going into a match. Your intensity needs to be the same in the nets and during the match.”
Around this time last year, Rajat Patidar was gearing up for yet another domestic season with hopes of drawing the attention of the national selectors or an Indian Premier League franchisee. But at the mega-auction in Bengaluru in February, none of the ten outfits showed any interest in him.
A disappointed Patidar, a few days after the auction, called up Devendra Bundela - former Madhya Pradesh captain, coach and one of the stalwarts of domestic cricket. The two spoke for long, with Bundela advising his ‘younger brother’ to shrug off the disappointment and concentrate on the Ranji Trophy.
But suddenly in April, Patidar was called up by Royal Challengers Bangalore as a replacement for Luvnith Sisodia. RCB handed Patidar a few games and he made the most of the opportunity, hammering an unbeaten 112 against Lucknow Super Giants at Eden Gardens to pave the way for his team’s 14-run win in the eliminator.
“IPL has been the turning point, but you need to live in the present and just follow the process,” he said. “T20 is a batter’s game, and it is about execution. In the last IPL I realised that batters try to be calculative and take risks accordingly. It depends on individuals… I try to understand the game and once I settle down, I try to maximize every over, so that it gets easier for other batters…”
While he loves keeping things simple in the IPL and targets a few bowlers to come up with a few big shots, Patidar admits that one needs to be more calculative in one-day cricket. “One-dayers have a bigger scope and it’s not easy. You need to score and at the same time, take the game deep. In T20, if you get into a flow then it is just about taking it forward. In ODIs, it is different… Calculation is the key in ODIs,” he said. “In ODIs, for instance, if you hit a four, then you need to think about how to make use of the other deliveries - maybe by taking singles and dragging till the end. But in T20s, if you get the momentum, you can just go on.”
The stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore in the last IPL boosted Patidar’s confidence and Patidar, now, is waiting hopefully to fulfil his dream of playing for Team India when the series against Bangladesh get underway at the Sher-E-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur from December 4.