Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli believes Harshal Patel has solved the team’s death-overs woes in the Indian Premier League (IPL) following the seamer’s bowling masterclass in Friday’s victory against champions Mumbai Indians.
Patel claimed three wickets in four balls in the dramatic 20th over and conceded only one run to help restrict a star-studded Mumbai to a modest 159-9. His 5-27 was also the first five-wicket haul any bowler has managed against five-time champions Mumbai, the most successful team in the Twenty20 league’s history.
“The last six overs for us, probably the best we’ve ever had,” Kohli said after Patel scored the winning run to secure their narrow victory in Chennai. “I think his spell was the difference in containing those 20-25 runs at the end. He is going to be (Bangalore’s designated death bowler), and he’s relishing the responsibility.”
Among Patel’s victims were Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan and Kieron Pollard who form the league’s most destructive middle order. “The wickets that he got weren’t fluke wickets,” Kohli said. “He actually wanted the guys to hit where they ended up getting caught. That was the hallmark of his game, he was very clear in what he wanted to do.”
Patel, who troubled batsmen with his clever mix of yorkers and slower deliveries, said being told early about his role helped his preparation. “When we gathered for the first camp there was a very clear instruction to me that I’m going to bowl at least two overs at the death,” the 30-year-old told reporters after collecting the man-of-the-match award.
“That gave me a lot of clarity and confidence to work on my skills and develop plans against the batters I’m going to face in the death overs in various teams.”
Despite losing the match, Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma praised his team’s effort for fighting till the end but said that they made some mistakes while batting and were 20 runs short. “I thought it was a great effort. Great fight till the end. I thought we were 20 runs short with the kind of start we got. We made some mistakes in the first game, bound to happen,” said Sharma after the match and added that it is important to win tournaments and not the first game.
“In hindsight you can say it takes time to get intensity. But there are fresh faces. Lot of players were playing international cricket and we have not had time to get to know each other very well,” he added.
On playing at neutral venues, Sharma said, “It can be difficult for teams who have great home record but that’s the challenge of the sport.”
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