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IPL 2024: Patidar’s spin domination helps RCB overcome middle-order woes and keep playoffs hopes alive

A fumbling middle-order has long been Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s Achilles heel. Fortunes largely depended on what famous batting troikas up top like Virat Kohli – Chris Gayle – A.B. de Villiers and Kohli – Faf du Plessis – Glenn Maxwell could do.

This seemed the case in the first half of the ongoing season as well but not anymore. Rajat Patidar, batting at No. 4, has exploded spectacularly as RCB has won five matches on the bounce after losing seven of its first eight.

Three of his five half-centuries have come in this purple patch and a fourth almost resulted in a victory before RCB lost to Kolkata Knight Riders by an agonising one-run margin.

The standout features of Patidar’s batting have been his manic run-making (SR 179.78) and his breathtaking ability to hit sixes (27) while remaining steadfastly elegant. He has also tackled spin with aplomb.

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In Sunday’s win over Delhi Capitals, Patidar scored 52 runs from 32 balls. Of that, 28 runs (14b) and all three of his sixes came against two of India’s frontline spinners in Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel.

“It has been a new challenge to bat in the middle-order this year,” Patidar told Sportstar on Tuesday. “Before this, I had batted mostly in the PowerPlay. So, it has been a different role. But I have played a lot of spinners in domestic [cricket] and I didn’t have to do anything different.”

Key to his success, Patidar felt, was the knack of reading spinners off the hand and then picking the length early.

“That’s important to dominate the spinners,” the 30-year-old stated. “It is also about my ability to hit the big shots. If I play in the middle-order, I get a good idea of the wicket too. If I do all these things well, strike rate is not something to worry about.”

In a sense, Patidar, in the past three weeks, has been singing his redemption song. After coming in as a replacement player mid-IPL in 2022 and setting the tournament on fire (333 runs, avg. 55.5 and SR 152.75), he missed the whole of the 2023 edition because of an injury.

Early this year, he made his India Test debut but he could only muster 63 runs from six innings. IPL 2024 would have thus come as a balm.

“Many times you don’t get what you want and I was ready for the failures,” Patidar said. “I don’t judge myself based on outcome or results. The biggest learning from this IPL has been that if you have the right mindset, you can make a comeback from anywhere. And it is something I can add to my individual game as well.”

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