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Devdutt Padikkal plays a shot on Day 2 of the 5th Test match against England, at Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, in Dharamsala on Friday.
| Photo Credit: ANI

 More than once, the ball off the outside edge of his bat flew out of fielders’ reach.

Some misfields raised his boundary count. A couple of off-drives and one cover drive from the left-hander had the crowd at the HPCA Stadium here at its feet. A straight six brought up his 50 on Test debut. In short, Devdutt Padikkal’s knock had a touch of everything from being fortuitous to fantastic.

Riding on the confidence of scoring 556 runs for Karnataka in the current Ranji Trophy season, not to forget his 191 runs, including a century, from three innings for India-A against England Lions earlier this year, Padikkal displayed style and elegance on the biggest stage on Friday.

His 103-ball 65 — dotted with six and 10 boundaries, mostly on the off-side — came at a time when India needed to tighten its grip on the match. The 97-run fourth-wicket stand with Sarfaraz Khan — his team-mate from India — kept the host on course of batting out the opposition.

Padikkal knew of his debut after Rajat Patidar reported sick on the eve of this match. “Regardless of when you get to know (of your debut), there is always going to be nervousness around. That was still there. I got a message the previous night saying that I could be playing. I was nervous, it was a tough night’s sleep but it is something you also enjoy at the same time. You live for those days.”

Interestingly, the left-hander chose the edged-boundary past the lone slip as his best of the 10 fours on this day.

“Every boundary is enjoyable but the first boundary, off the edge, was most enjoyable because those were my first runs in Test cricket.”

Asked to reflect on the phase when stomach illness kept him away from nets, Padikkal said, “I have always believed that discipline is the key to success. During sickness, I couldn’t do much, but I made sure I was not lagging behind in other areas. I continued to work on myself whether mentally or any other small thing.”

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