When the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) traded Harshal Patel from the Delhi Capitals ahead of IPL 2021, many cricket pundits couldn't make any sense of this move. But he went on to prove all his doubters wrong.
Harshal Patel had a dream IPL season in 2021 as he took 32 wickets at an astonishing average of just 14.34, including a memorable hat-trick against a formidable Mumbai Indians side. He was at the peak of his bowling prowess that season, and an India T20I call-up was not far away.
Harshal Patel's performances in international cricket
Harshal Patel continued his impressive IPL form on the international stage, using his variations — such as dipping yorkers, cutters, and slow bouncers — to good effect in his first few outings.
In fact, his performances were on track in his first 12 innings, with an overall economy of 8.1 and a brilliant strike rate of 13.7, which means he picked up almost two wickets per match in that run.
But things went downhill from there for him. In his next 13 innings, he recorded an economy of 10.18 and a strike rate of 20.7, indicating that his wickets tally nearly halved in those matches.
In his 25-match career so far, he has also conceded 40+ runs in eight matches, with five of those expensive overs coming after his first 12 matches.
Here we take a look at some of the reasons behind his dip in form in international cricket:
His variations getting decoded by batsmen
Batsmen like Dasun Shanaka have slowly but successfully started picking his variations very effectively. Harshal has bowled 24 deliveries to Shanaka so far in his T20I career and has been smacked for 63 runs without dismissing him even once.
If we compare his IPL numbers with his international ones, then the results are as contrasting as you might imagine.
In the last two IPL seasons, Harshal Patel has picked up 51 wickets in 30 innings at an economy of 7.9. In death overs, Harshal has been good with a strike rate of 9.6 and an economy of 9.1.
Now compare it to his international numbers. Harshal has leaked runs at almost 11 runs per over in death-overs and even his strike rate is 15.4.
Harshal Patel picked up 23 wickets in 21 T20I innings in 2022 but conceded runs at a 9.3 economy rate. He also got smacked for 43 sixes, the most for a bowler in a calendar year.
Only Odean Smith had a lower economy — of 9.36 — among Test-playing bowlers who bowled 50 or more overs in a year.
Not accurate with his line and lengths anymore
It's not difficult to guess that his greatest strength has been his off-cutters. But since he does not offer too much pace, line and length becomes the most important factor.
In his first 12 innings in international cricket, he bowled 48.2 percent of his total off-cutters in good length areas and only 7.1 percent were pitched short. But in his next 13 innings, Harshal Patel bowled only 31.6 percent of his off-cutter at good length and 18.4 percent were short, which is one of the reasons why he started leaking runs.
It is clearly visible that with his pace, short balls have not been that effective. In fact, batsmen have ample time to adjust and play an attacking shot off his bowling.
Harshal Patel's slower ones could prove to be effective in the West Indies at the 2024 T20 World Cup and for that he needs to find his mojo back which seems to be missing right now.
He does provide some batting depth coming in at eight or nine but his primary role in the team is bowling in death overs, which is going south right now. So the Indian management may look for other options beyond him.
With the emergence of talents like Umran Malik and Arshdeep Singh, it might be difficult for someone like Harshal Patel to make his way back into the Indian T20I team.
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Poll : Should India look for other options beyond Harshal Patel in T20Is?
Yes, they should.
No, he will make a strong comeback.