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Harshal Patel Reflects on a Resurgent Season and His Favorite Wicket

The change of teams has worked wonders for Harshal Patel, widely known by fans as ‘Purple’ Patel since his monumental 32-wicket season for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2021. In the ongoing IPL season, representing Punjab Kings, Harshal has re-emerged with his slower dipping yorker—a delivery he admits to struggling with for a year and a half. Now, he has perfected this technique once again and sits atop the leaderboard with a remarkable 22 scalps to his name.

Among these wickets are some prized dismissals, including his former IPL captain Virat Kohli and the legendary MS Dhoni. Intriguingly, Patel is the only bowler to get Dhoni out so far this season, a feat considering Dhoni has batted ten times and only been dismissed twice, one of which was a run-out. However, neither Kohli’s nor Dhoni’s wickets tops Harshal’s list of favorites this year. In an exclusive chat with IPL, Harshal revealed that his favorite wicket was none other than that of Shahrukh Khan.

“The Shahrukh wicket was really special because, if I say so myself, that was a really difficult delivery to play,” Harshal said in an interview available on the IPL website. “That would probably be one of my favorites, and obviously getting Mahi bhai out is always special, especially in that situation where the game could have gone either way. Instead of 167, they could have gotten to 180.”

He continued, “I have said this multiple times, when I execute that delivery and when it comes out of my hand really well, most of the batters don’t see it. Especially when you have just come in and have not played any balls. It’s very easy to wait for it, allow it to dip, and then get under the ball to hit it for a six or a four.”

Harshal unveiled some fascinating insights into his strategy against Dhoni. Initially, he aimed to bowl from around the wicket to him as he did not want to serve deliveries right in Dhoni’s hitting zone with just a couple of balls left in his over. However, after dismissing Shardul Thakur with that same dipping delivery, he decided to take a chance, which paid off spectacularly, earning him the big wicket.

Over the course of this comeback season, Harshal has continued to be an essential cog for Punjab Kings. His most notable performance was in the match against Rajasthan Royals, where he picked up two critical wickets—Harshal Patel (noting that the batsman shares his name) and Donovan Ferreira—on a Guwahati track that was slightly tricky for the batters.

Harshal also discussed his strategic approach against his former skipper, Virat Kohli, during a match between RCB and Punjab in Bengaluru earlier this season. Harshal aimed to bowl wide to Kohli with a fielder positioned deep at point. “The idea was not to get him out because he was stepping out and playing so well through the line that even if I have mid-off back, he is good enough to hit me over extra cover. The idea was, okay if he steps out, I’ll just throw it wide, and if he gets bat on ball, I still have deep point to cover it,” Harshal elaborated.

The ongoing season has seen Harshal’s resurgence, transforming him into a vital player for the Punjab Kings, helping them stay competitive in the IPL. This journey also narrates a comeback story for a bowler who had lost his magic for a year and a half but rediscovered it at the right time.

Adding more to his impressive list of feats, Harshal is now two wickets ahead of India’s pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah in the race for the top spot. Harshal intends to keep pushing forward and add more wickets to create a significant gap from Varun Chakravarthy, the Kolkata Knight Riders spinner, who is presently four wickets behind with at least three more games left to play.

In conclusion, Harshal Patel’s season has been nothing short of impressive, capitalizing on his move to Punjab Kings to reclaim his former prowess. His effective use of slower dipping yorkers and smart strategic plans against top batters underscore his cricketing intellect. While the wickets of iconic players like Kohli and Dhoni are prized, the dismissal of Shahrukh Khan remains his standout moment—a testament to his skill revival and strategic mastery.