One of the finest T20 bowlers at the moment, Harshal Patel has been a match-winner with his variations in crunch moments. Early in his career, he was often termed as an average bowler, who gave away runs at an expensive rate, and picked a handful of wickets. However, Patel shot to new heights after winning the purple cap in IPL 2021 and soon made his India debut as well.
In the latest interaction, Harshal Patel was asked about his idol and also about the player from whom he learned the art of delivering slower balls. He named the former India pacer Zaheer Khan as his idol due to his expertise with the knuckleballs to pick wickets in the 2011 World Cup. However, he had also received a rap on the knuckle from the left-arm pacer during his time with the RCB for not listening. “If I have to look at one person who sort of legitimized slower balls, it was Zaheer Khan in the 2011 World Cup. The way he got people out with those knuckleballs was unbelievable to watch. I got my education in T20 bowling from him,” said Harshal Patel on Gaurav Kapur’s show Breakfast with Champions on YouTube.
Patel made his IPL debut with RCB in 2012, where he bowled alongside Khan. He revealed that Zaheer instructed him to bowl slower balls in some particular situations, and helped him to package every over in T20s. In relation to this, he revealed a story of him bowling a slower ball, getting hit for a six, and receiving slack from Khan. “I started with RCB in 2012, and he used to come up to every single ball and tell me what to bowl. So he used to tell me how to package it. I remember we were playing in Pune, and he had told me not to ball the slower ball. But I bowled a slower ball to Uthappa and he hit me for a six over mid-wicket. He walked towards me and apart from among other things he said, ‘Didn’t I tell you not to bowl that?,” Patel added. Harshal Patel was the leading wicket-taker in the IPL 2021 season with 32 scalps in 15 appearances. After one of the matches in the last season, he met Khan after which the latter heaped praise on his performance and told him not to complicate things.
Patel further revealed a chat with MS Dhoni, where he asked where his vulnerabilities lie and what changes can make him a better bowler. The former Indian captain instructed him to learn to read the game better and be fit. “I asked him [Zaheer Khan] a couple of questions in the last season after a game, to which he said, ‘Everything is going well, how much more you want to change things. Not only him, but Mahi [Dhoni] Bhai also said the same thing, when I was a net bowler after the IPL for the T20 World Cup, and I asked him where can I get better?. He replied you have your formula set, all you need to do is learn to read the game better, which you will as you keep on playing and be fit,” Patel added.