Harshal Patel reveals how a small tip from Zaheer Khan made a massive difference to his bowling

Harshal Patel bowling against New Zealand. Pic: Getty Images; (Inset) Zaheer Khan
Harshal Patel bowling against New Zealand. Pic: Getty Images; (Inset) Zaheer Khan
Renin Wilben Albert

Team India and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) pacer Harshal Patel has revealed that a small piece of advice from Zaheer Khan helped him in a big way and changed him as a bowler.

During his stint with Delhi Capitals (DC) in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Harshal got a chance to have a chat with the former India left-arm seamer. The interaction took place when DC were taking on the Mumbai Indians (MI).

Giving details of the interaction, Harshal told The Indian Express:

“When I was with DC and we were playing MI, I got a chance to speak with Zaheer bhai. I have this massive problem of my deliveries drifting down the leg stump, and I spoke to him about it. He spotted an issue with my release angle. With my angle, if I pitch the ball on the off-stump, it will automatically drift to the leg stump.”

On the tweak that Zaheer suggested, the 31-year-old informed:

“The release angle should target the sixth or seventh stump line and then the ball will hit the off stump, he advised me. A small tip made a massive difference in my consistency and changed me as a bowler.”

Although Harshal has been part of the IPL for a number of seasons, he had his breakthrough year in 2021, as he claimed 32 scalps in 15 matches for RCB. Following the standout performance, Harshal was even handed his Team India debut during the recent T20I series against New Zealand.

“Kohli, De Villiers told me they don’t see my slower ones coming out of my hand” - Harshal Patel

Thank you, @HarshalPatel23! 🤗For showing us what you’re really capable and giving us so many unforgettable memories and a record equalling season. We can’t wait to see you set and break more records in the coming years. 🙌🏻We hope to see you in RCB colours again!❤️#PlayBold

Harshal’s slower balls were deadly effective in IPL 2021, catching some of the best batters in the business off-guard.

Asked why his variations have proved so lethal, the pacer explained that he aims to bowl it quickly. Harshal elaborated:

“My arm-speed should be faster than my normal deliveries and then the second thing is to put as much revolution on the ball as possible. My slower ball are my efforts ball.”

The RCB pacer proudly added:

“Someone like Virat Kohli, Ab de Villiers, and Glen Maxwell, have told me that they don’t see my slower ones coming out of my hand. That gives me enough confidence that if these people are not able to read it then most of the other batters won’t be able to read it.”

Harshal admitted that he was surprised when RCB earmarked him as the team’s death-overs specialist. He, however, asserted that he saw the challenge as an opportunity. The right-arm medium pacer said:

“RCB management trading me back and giving me this role changed my life completely. There are two or three career-defining instances for me. The first was when I moved to Haryana, the second was the 2018 IPL auction, and then RCB entrusted me with bowling in the death overs. To be honest, when the RCB management decided to give me the role of bowling in the death overs. I was a bit surprised but they had more faith in my ability than I had at that time.”

Despite his stellar show, Harshal was released by RCB ahead of the IPL 2022 mega auction. The franchise decided to retain only Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell and Mohammed Siraj.

Edited by Samya Majumdar
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