'Watched him for 2 years': Mike Hesson names 3 uncapped Indians who can help RCB win IPL 2021
Royal Challengers Bangalore's (RCB) director of cricket operations Mike Hesson named three uncapped Indian cricketers - Rajat Patidar, Suyash Prabhudesai and Mohammed Azharuddeen - who he believes can perform really well in IPL 2021.
You won’t be questioned with frowned eyebrows if you don’t associate youngsters with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) like you would with a Rajasthan Royals or a Sunrisers Hyderabad. RCB is driven by arguably the biggest superstar of cricket Virat Kohli. He is aided by perhaps one of the most impactful overseas cricketers of the IPL, AB de Villiers. In between, heavyweights like Dale Steyn, Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum, Chris Morris have been a part of their journey.
That they leapfrogged Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals and, in the end, came on top of a close contest with Chennai Super Kings that would give a Super Over clash in IPL a run for its money to bag another T20 luminary Glenn Maxwell for ₹14.25 crores in the auctions this year, speaks a lot about how RCB see things in the build-up to the IPL.
However, if you are one of those with the ability to not only read between the lines but also go into the depth of things, exploring and explaining the minutest of details of cricket, then you would quickly point out that RCB has also been home to the likes of Navdeep Saini, Washington Sundar and Devdutt Padikkal. The first two have risen through the ranks to represent India in all three formats while the latter is inches away from hammering down the doors of international cricket.
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RCB’s director of cricket operations Mike Hesson for obvious reasons belongs to the second group. And he has his reasons to claim that RCB is a breeding ground for youngsters in the IPL. Hesson believes RCB have in their ranks three uncapped cricketers who can be the next big thing of Indian cricket in white-ball cricket.
Despite being sold at his base price of ₹20 lakh to RCB, the first four results of ‘Rajat Patidar’ search in google are videos of his 51-ball 96 in a Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy match this year, his unbeaten 68 off 29 balls in the year’s edition of the tournament. Another 50 off 41 balls this year. One thing that stands out among all this, is his strike rate and ability to hit big in the middle overs of a T20 match, something which Hesson says RCB have been tracking since the last two years.
“It’s his (Raja Patidar) first IPL. He’s 27 years old so he understands the first-class system well. He’s a top-quality batsman. He has done well domestically both in Syed Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Hazare. He’s a guy we’ve watched for two years,” said Hesson ahead of IPL 2021.
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In 22 T20s for Madhya Pradesh, the right-hander has an impressive strike rate of 143.53 and has already hit 28 sixes, averaging more than a six per innings.
“He’s smallish in stature but certainly generates a huge amount of power. He’s very good against both pace and pace. He’s a player who has excited us and that’s why we were really keen to get him at the auction. We’ve had our training yesterday and once again he showed those skills,” Hesson added.
Unlike Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddeen is a familiar face, especially after what the Kerala wicketkeeper-batsman achieved against Mumbai - 137 not out off 54 balls with 11 sixes - in a Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy match this year.
“Mohammed Azharuddeen is another one. He’s enterprising, obviously came to the limelight after scoring a hundred against Mumbai in the Syed Mushtaq Ali. It was televised, so everybody must have seen what he can do when he’s at his best,” said Hesson.
What augurs well for the right-handed opener is the fact that RCB are looking at him as an option with the gloves in hand.
“He’s been around in the system for a while but this is a huge opportunity for him and he’s one of those high impact players in the tournament who can take the pressure off other players. We talk about developing a batting line-up, we have to focus on players who complement each other. So, he’s an exciting prospect, a very good keeper as well. He gives us another option apart from ABD,” Hesson said.
RCB and Goa players are a match made in heaven. Prabhudesai is only the fourth player to be picked up by RCB. Before him, Saurabh Bandekar and Shadab Jakati had also played for RCB. But the only one from Goa to have left some sort of impression on the IPL is opening batsman Swapnil Asnodkar. If Hesson’s words are anything to go by then their new pick Patidar can very well eclipse him and go beyond.
“There have only been four players from Goa to come into the IPL and he’s the fourth. An undoubted finisher. He’s got a full range of shots, plays 360 around the ground. Once again quite small in stature but has a huge amount of power. A very good athlete. As far as fielding is concerned, we’ve improved last year but I think you’ll see an even better performance this year,” Hesson said.
Patidar has an impressive strike rate of 148 in T20s but even would be aware of the big jump in quality that IPL is.