Gautam Gambhir has named Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) pacer Harshal Patel as his 'Player of the Tournament' in IPL 2021. The former opener lauded Patel for his grit and ability to put his hand up and perform in the most trying of situations throughout the season.
Gambhir's observation came during a chat with ESPNcricinfo after RCB's defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Eliminator in Sharjah on Monday. Harshal Patel was once again among the wickets in the game, snapping two crucial wickets. The haul brought his overall tally for the season to 32 - equalling DJ Bravo's record for most wickets in an IPL season.
Gambhir said in this regard:
"Look at Harshal Patel today; he bowled the fifth over which was probably the toughest after Garton went for 15-20 in the fourth over... He bowled the fifth over, and got the wicket. He bowled in the death, and got wickets. So he's done probably the toughest thing that RCB were expecting him to do, and he came out with flying colours. Irrespective of how many runs and wickets players will get, he's the player of the tournament for me already."
Gautam Gambhir rued the fact that despite his imperious performances, Harshal Patel won't feature in the final. He further praised the 30-year-old for handling the age-old burden of RCB's death bowling almost singlehandedly, saying:
"It's unfortunate. He deserved to play in the final. He's been the standout performer for them... The way he has carried on the burden of death bowling for RCB, which has been a concern for so many years... he's literally handled that pressure single-handedly. Hats off to him, and he's had a fabulous, fabulous IPL."
Harshal Patel would have become the outright leader for most wickets in an IPL season had Devdutt Padikkal not spilled a tough chance off his bowling in the 16th over. However, Patel still took home the records for most wickets in the league stage (30) and most wickets by an uncapped bowler in an IPL season. He's also likely to retain the Purple Cap.
"One of the worst overs I have seen in an IPL game" - Gautam Gambhir on Dan Christian's over to Sunil Narine
Gautam Gambhir said that the turning point of the KKR-RCB clash was the over from Dan Christian. The all-rounder delivered the 12th over in KKR's chase to new batsman Sunil Narine, but conceded a massive 22 runs, which completely changed the momentum of the game.
Gambhir termed that over from Christian as one the 'worst overs' he has seen in the IPL, saying:
"I thought it was probably one of the worst overs I have seen in an IPL game. Yes, I have seen many bad overs, but (against) Sunil Narine, bowling that half-tracker first ball, you don't expect that from a seasoned campaigner who has played all across the world and who has probably played more T20 cricket than anyone."
"Giving 22 runs in that one over probably changed the entire game. All you can expect from him is to bowl that length outside off stump because Sunil Narine's strength is on the leg side..."
Gambhir also faulted Virat Kohli's captaincy for the same as well, saying the RCB captain could have gone with a more attacking option. Gambhir said in this regard:
"And to a certain extent, let me be very honest with you. I think (it was) poor captaincy as well because Harshal Patel got one wicket in the (previous) over before, he could have gone to his main bowler like Yuzvendra Chahal or Mohammed Siraj because pace is pace... Dan Christian was probably never a wicket-taking option. Had he got Sunil Narine at that stage, back-to-back wickets, KKR would have been under a lot of pressure."
RCB ended their IPL 2021 campaign in fourth position. Meanwhile, KKR will now fight out against Delhi Capitals on Wednesday for a spot in the final against Chennai Super Kings.