Harshal: Privilege playing under Virat

"Virat is somebody who believes in freedom. He gives you absolute freedom. That is something that every bowler appreciates."

Harshal Patel has been with the Royal Challengers Bangalore since 2012.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

Harshal Patel joined Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2012, on the back of an impressive debut season in first-class cricket, when he notably ran through Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals. He played 13 matches in his first IPL season but only managed three games over the next two years. But last season, the medium-pacer firmly established himself in the RCB side, finishing with 17 wickets at an economy rate under 7.5.

"In my first year (at RCB), I didn’t know much about IPL or T20 cricket," he said here on Thursday. "That year just went by in a blur. I learned a lot but didn’t expect to play the whole season. The next two years were a learning curve, throughout which the support staff helped me. Last year was the result of the hard work that I had put in over the preceding two years."

Patel hailed the impact of the bowling coach, Allan Donald. "He's somebody who doesn’t go deep into technique. He’s a wonderful guy to have; he can teach you how to play around with a batsman’s mind. That is the most important thing a bowler can learn in his early days," he said.

The 25-year-old also called playing under Virat Kohli a 'privilege'. "It's a privilege to have a captain who gives you the freedom to do whatever you want on the field," he said. "Virat is somebody who believes in freedom. He gives you absolute freedom. That is something that every bowler appreciates."

How would he have bowled to Sarfaraz Khan, who played a variety of unorthodox shots that night? "Don't let him play those shots; simple as that," Patel said. "What Sarfaraz did was something exceptional. Sometimes, what happens is you've not seen anybody play like that before and your mind kind of freezes at that moment. You can't get yourself out of it. I guess that's what happened to the bowlers that day."