Team India and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) pacer Harshal Patel has revealed that he just wanted to get Hardik Pandya off strike during the IPL 2021 match against Mumbai Indians (MI) in Dubai. The pace bowler ended up dismissing Hardik, Kieron Pollard, and Rahul Chahar off consecutive slower balls to complete a hat-trick.
The RCB pacer finished the game with figures of four for 17 in 3.1 overs as MI were cleaned up for 111 in 18.1 overs, chasing a target of 166. Although Glenn Maxwell walked away with the Player of the Match award for his all-round effort, Harshal’s performance remains one of the highlights of RCB’s dominant win.
In an interview with ESPNcricinfo’s The Cricket Monthly, Harshal revisited the dismissals of Hardik and Pollard. Opening up on Hardik’s dismissal with a wide slower ball, the pacer explained:
“So there’s another way I like to use the slower ball, which is to get the batter off strike. Because if you bowl it right under the bat, give no pace at all, it’s very hard to hit for a six. So that was my aim when I was bowling to Hardik. I just wanted to get him off strike, but the ball actually dipped more than I expected. And he tried to hit it.”
Hardik looked to slam the ball on the on-side, but miscued the delivery and was easily caught by Virat Kohli. On the next ball, Pollard was knocked over as he shuffled across his stumps and completed failed to pick the variation from the RCB pacer. Harshal admitted that while Hardik’s dismissal wasn’t planned, Pollard’s wicket definitely was. He elaborated:
“I had three out on the off side and my square leg and fine leg were up. I knew that [Pollard] was going to try and reach it. I had two options. I could have bowled a fast yorker at his heel. But I thought [I’ll bowl] the slower ball, because it was coming out of my hand really well and it was dipping quite a bit.
“I thought, okay, I’m going bowl a full slower ball at his heel and if he tries to reach with his front foot rather than his back foot, he’s going to be in trouble. And that’s exactly what happened. And that wicket to date is one of my favorites.”
Harshal completed his hat-trick by trapping a clueless Chahar lbw with a slow and low full toss. The tailender missed the delivery and was caught in front of the stumps.
“I’m not someone who’s going to shy away from bowling 24 slower balls” – Harshal Patel
For the slower ball to be effective, it is important for it to be used sparingly, as a variation. While critics will agree with the observation, Harshal has a somewhat differing view.
While admitting that he likes to hit good numbers on the speed gun, the pacer added:
“Sometimes there are days where I feel I don’t really need to go fast at all. And as a fast bowler you want to see the speed gun touching 137-138, and my quick balls can get through that ceiling. You want to do that. You want to see the ball hitting the wicketkeeper’s gloves. But I’m not someone who’s going to shy away from bowling 24 slower balls.”
Having made his IPL debut back in 2012, Harshal has claimed 97 scalps in 78 matches at an average of 22.87 and an economy rate of 8.40.