Rajat Patidar to miss first half of IPL 2023 with heel injury
MRI on April 14 to determine next course of action
Rajat Patidar, Royal Challengers Bangalore's breakout star of IPL 2022, is set to miss at least the first half of the upcoming season due to a heel injury. Patidar is currently undergoing rehab at the NCA in Bengaluru.
ESPNcricinfo understands Patidar has been advised rest for the next three weeks before an MRI scan will determine his participation in the second half of the competition. He picked up the injury prior to joining the camp, and will need an NCA clearance before linking up with Royal Challengers.
Patidar's absence could force Royal Challengers to rethink their batting combination. With him in the mix, Mike Hesson, the franchise's director of cricket, had stated after the auction that Virat Kohli would continue to open the batting with Faf du Plessis. The injury now potentially means they could have Kohli slot back at three with one of Finn Allen or Anuj Rawat opening with du Plessis.
Patidar wasn't picked at last year's mega auction but came in as a replacement midway through the season following an injury to wicketkeeper Luvnith Sisodia.
He announced his arrival in the Eliminator by hitting the fastest hundred by an Indian in the tournament's history, an innings rated by ESPNcricinfo's panelists as the best in men's franchise cricket in 2022.
Patidar finished the season as the third-highest run-scorer for Royal Challengers, behind du Plessis and Kohli. He made 333 runs in seven innings at a strike rate of 152.75. His IPL exploits along with stellar returns in a title-winning Ranji Trophy campaign with Madhya Pradesh earned him a berth in India's ODI squad during their home summer last year.
Patidar's unavailability isn't the only concern for Royal Challengers. There are also doubts over Josh Hazlewood's participation. The Australian fast bowler is currently recovering from Achilles tendonitis.
He flew home midway through the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in February after missing the first two Tests. Hazlewood's fitness is going to be monitored closely, given Australia have the World Test Championship final and the Ashes coming up immediately after the IPL ends on May 28.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo