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IPL 2021: Playing 10 Years of Professional Cricket Has Given Me The Mental Strength: Harshal Patel

Harshal Patel was the leading wicket-taker of the truncated 2021 edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) and returned with 17 wickets in 7 matches at an average of 15.11 and strike rate of 9.88. His wicket-taking prowess stood out in the tournament and he was one of the main reasons for the great start to the season for the Challengers.

Currently in America with this family, the right-arm fast-medium bowler spoke about the challenges of playing cricket during the times of Covid coming in and out of hard and tough quarantines. The IPL is the most competitive league in the world where the best in the business compete. It was not easy for Patel to come out of isolation and perform the way he did. The RCB pacer credited his past experience of playing professional cricket for his mental toughness and temperament.

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“I think as I have played 10 years of professional cricket and that has helped me a lot.. I last played top-notch cricket in the IPL in the UAE in October and then twisted my ankle thus I missed the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. I came back straight away into the 2021 IPL – my first match was against the Mumbai Indians. There was no competitive cricket for a period of 5 months so it was definitely a big challenge. You cannot replace the intensity of a match however hard and long you practice,” quoted Patel.

He added that the main challenge was to overcome the physical rustiness after such a long break, further stating that he did not find it difficult to cope with the mental aspect as he has played at the senior level for 10 years in domestic cricket.

“Mentally it is not that difficult for me as I have 10 years of experience. I have already faced two to three long layoffs due to injuries. The important thing is to slowly get your rhythm back and not rush into things. There is pressure to make an impact immediately to make up for lost time but you have to give yourself and your body time to get back into the groove.”

Patel is currently spending time with his family in America but misses playing at the top level after his standout performance in the IPL.

“Currently I am in America where there is no cricket. I still play alone with the bat and the ball in the backyard as I miss playing the game. I am a professional and any athlete will miss performing in competitive cricket,” added Patel.

Patel also spoke about the importance of the slower deliveries in limited overs cricket stating that with the onset of T20 cricket, smaller grounds, fearless batsmen and high strike rates, bowlers had to resort to change of pace not only to contain but also to pick wickets.

“The slower delivery is very important at the international and IPL level. The white ball just hurries to the boundary on good batting tracks in the IPL and the batsmen are fearless these days. They attack from the very first ball of the match. No one takes time to settle in as before. Thus, I have to change the pace and bowl the slower ones to break the flow. I have a number of variations which include the off cutter, a slower full-toss which is actually yorker length and another slower delivery with a quick-arm action. I get many wickets with these slower deliveries,” added Patel.

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Patel named Dwayne Bravo as the best bowler of the slower delivery in international cricket.

He added that he would love to play for India but selection was not in his hands. He said he will make the most of the opportunity if selected for Sri Lanka.

“To be selected for the Sri Lanka tour is not in my hands. I want to play for India and have improved a lot in all formats in the last couple of years. I am very confident of my skill and ability and can deliver at any level. It will be a massive and proud day for my family when I play for the country,” stated Patel.

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