Devdutt Padikkal and three others, Chetan Sakariya, Nitish Rana and Ruturad Gaikwad made their debut for India against Sri Lanka in the second T-20 international against Sri Lanka on Wednesday.
Among these, Dev, the left-handed batsman belonging to Edappal, a small town in the state of Kerala, was born on 07 July 2000, making him the first twenty-first century-born player to debut for India. Minutes before the match, this correspondent was the first to share this piece of trivia with Dev’s family in Bangalore. And the family was certainly thrilled.
“Learning that Dev is the first player from this millennium who’d be playing for India is indeed a pleasant surprise and an icing on the cake,” says Dev’s father, Babunu Kunnath, reminding us also that Dev’s birthday falls on the same day as MS Dhoni’s.
While Dev’s father owns a business in the field of defence electronics, his mother Ambili is a homemaker and older sister Chandni has just started her career in sports law after doing her Master’s in law. The Kunnath family had moved to Bangalore in 2011 so he could begin his training at the Karnataka Institute of Cricket (KIOC). The move surely paid off for the family and Dev.
“It is indeed a dream come true for all of us,” says the grateful father. “We’d read several reports online stating that several players came in contact with the COVID-infected and now isolated Krunal Pandya. And as India may have a limited number of players on the field today, we were expecting Dev to get a chance today,” shares his dad.
“Otherwise, we were expecting him to play the last T20 for sure.”
In fact, even before the series, Team India Coach Rahul Dravid had indicated that all newcomers would get a chance to play.
A cricketing talent
Incidentally, Dravid has been Dev’s idol and role model from a young age. In fact, Dev and Dravid share the same alma mater, St Joseph’s Boys School. Irfan Sait of KOIC, who’d coached Dev when he was a kid, shared that he considers Dev the most consistent player in red and white ball games.
“He has been successful in all forms of cricket in the last three years,” Irfan states proudly. Indeed, Dev holds the unique record of scoring fifties on First-Class, List A, T20 and IPL debut matches. Apart from cricket, Dev loves to play football, and his favourite team is Manchester United.