In the IPL 2022 Eliminator between Lucknow Super Giants and Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Eden Gardens, Harshal Patel was entrusted with the task of preventing Lucknow from chasing 208. When he arrived, Lucknow needed 41 off the last three overs.
That soon became 35 off 18 balls as Patel conceded a wide and five more wides beating wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik. Starts like this would have made even the most passionate Bangalore fans think of the umpteen heartbreaks in previous knockout matches. But it wasn’t to be as Patel shed his yorkers to go back to slower and hard length balls, which worked as Marcus Stoinis was caught at deep cover.
Patel went on to concede only two more runs in his last three legal balls to leave Lucknow needing 33 off the last 12 balls, eventually falling short by 14 runs. After the match ended, Patel admitted to being nervous and explained how he had to change his plans in a jiffy.
“Definitely I was nervous, there’s no doubt about that. If you are defending 35 off 18 balls, you’re going to be nervous, there’s no way around it. But when I conceded six runs off wides without bowling a legal delivery, I knew the wide yorker won’t work. So I wanted to go back to the plans that had worked for me in my first two overs and give myself the best opportunity to get (Marcus) Stoinis and KL (Rahul) out,” said Patel in the post-match virtual press conference.
“Fortunately, I got Stoinis out at the boundary, luckily Hoff (Josh Hazlewood) got KL (KL Rahul) out as well. The game changed there. At different venues, the way you bowl changes differently, the skill remains the same though but the percentage of me bowling yorkers, slower balls, and hard lengths varies depending on how the surface is playing and the areas where batters are trying to hit. Idea is that we assess the conditions quickly and try to adapt well,” added the right-arm pacer.
In the tournament, Patel has picked 19 wickets and remarked that how seeing the bowling of Lucknow gave him ideas to zero on the ideal line and length for bowling in the second innings. “There wasn’t much dew, but when it rained and covers were on, the moisture that is there underneath comes up to the surface, so the outfield was a tad damp because of that.”
“Whenever their bowlers bowled short or slow balls, the ball wasn’t coming on that well onto the bat. That was a clue for me to bowl short and into the pitch as slow as I can, and then mix it up with a good yorker or nice hard lengths. But I knew a majority of my deliveries are going to be slower balls on this sort of a wicket because if you gave pace, it was becoming really easy to hit.”
Patel’s overall bowling efforts in the Eliminator were 1/25 in four overs, identical to the figures picked by Lucknow’s left-arm pacer Mohsin Khan. But his figures came on the back of suffering a split webbing on his bowling hand, which hadn’t been healed completely.
“Luckily, I didn’t have to make any changes to my skill, because the skin superficially has healed quite well. So I was able to bowl my slower balls and I was able to bowl whatever I wanted to bowl. We tried everything in practice yesterday (Tuesday).”
“I bowled 30-40 balls and was pretty confident this would hold up as long as I don’t get another impact. So, I didn’t have to make a lot of changes. Luckily, it healed just enough for me to play this game.”
With Bangalore all set to face off against Rajasthan Royals in the Qualifier 2 for a place in the final, Patel said he is always geared up to bowl the tough overs for his team in the tournament. “Whether I will be able to deliver or not, I don’t know, but I want to be in those situations, there’s no doubt about that. I’+ve been wanting to do that for the past two-three years.”
“I’ve been doing it for Haryana (domestic cricket). I want to do it at the biggest stage, and I will continue to put myself in those situations. Sometimes it’s going to come off, sometimes it won’t. There will be games which I will end up losing for the team and I am okay with that as long as I don’t shy away from these challenges.”