Harshal Patel had to wait for a long time to arrive at this moment. So, when former India pacer Ajit Agarkar handed him his T20I cap, it was unarguably one of the biggest moments that the 30-year-old had ever faced. Instead, he kept his calm. There were no tears, not much emotion, just a smile as if tO say ‘this is just the beginning.’
From making his IPL debut back in 2011 to finally making an impact earlier this year for RCB, the Haryana cricketer had to see a lot of ups and downs to realise his dream—which was to play for India.
Earlier this year, he was the highest wicket taker in IPL which made sure he got the purple cap. As the tournament began this year under Covid shadow in Chennai, he made an instant impact in the opening match against Mumbai Indians, picking up a five-for. This was first such act against the might of Mumbai which had an excellent top order. As the tournament moved to UAE, Patel too brought his purple patch to Dubai, picking up a hattrick against the same opposition. He then went onto become the joint highest wicket-taker in IPL. He accounted for 32 wickets which was stupendous to say the least. He even went onto overshadow Mohammed Siraj, the latest pace sensation, in the RCB dressing room. Interestingly, he replaced Siraj on his debut.
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He might have got a sense of what is to come after he was picked up as ‘net bowler’ for the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 alongside Venkatesh Iyer. Although Iyer made his debut against NZ in the first T20I, Patel had to wait, but it wasn’t long before he realised his biggest dream.
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Nonetheless, he must be proud that he got the cap from none other than Ajit Agarkar who was probably the best ODI bowler at the turn of this century. A specialist of sorts who was overshadowed by the likes of Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan. It was only in 2004 that he too like Patel came into his own. At 30, Patel can’t afford to do an Agarkar. He needs to make impact right from the word ‘go’
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