Harshal Patel talks of new skill in his armoury ahead of IPL 2023

The Royal Challengers Bangalore seamer has been a designated end-overs bowler for his side ever since his breakthrough season in 2021. 
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Integral to the death-overs plans for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) over the past two editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Harshal Patel said he has focused on sharpening his new-ball skills to add more strings to his bow and become a more robust option for his team. 

The India and Haryana seamer took a whopping 32 wickets in IPL 2021 to bag the 'Orange Cap'. Only one pacer - Dwayne Bravo - had matched his tally in the league before. That season fastened Patel's ascent into India's T20I set-up as he was even picked for the T20 World Cup in Australia. 

Over time, however, the man's stocks have fallen, especially in the past three months when he got dropped from India's T20I outfit after remaining on the bench Down Under. The key reason being question marks on the sustainability of his slower-ball dominant death-overs ploy. 

Even though Harshal Patel takes a lot of end-overs wickets, he has been blazed away for more than 11 an over and has an overall ER of 9.18 across 25 T20Is for India. In the IPL, where he has bagged 51 wickets at 17.03 apiece over the last two seasons, his death-overs economy rate in the same timeframe stands at 9.52. 

Harshal Patel working on new-ball skills for IPL 2023 success 

An intelligent, self-aware individual, Harshal Patel said he has gone through upskilling over the past few months with a singleminded focus on improving his new-ball armoury and becoming more of an all-phase bowler for his team. 

"I have tried to work on my new-ball skills in the last six to eight months," Patel revealed in his interview with the ESPNcricinfo prior to RCB's IPL 2023 opener versus Mumbai Indians (MI) on Sunday (April 2).  

"I've gotten better bowling with a new ball in the Ranji Trophy. Bowling a new ball in the IPL is a completely different challenge. So adding that skill to my game was a challenge I wanted to take on. That makes me a more multi-dimensional bowler."

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The 32-year-old stressed on the new-ball development, adding that he wants to be someone the side can also bank on during the powerplay field-restriction stage and potentially get it to seam up and swing the ball rather than just defeat the batters in the air through drift, dip and grip on his slower ones. 

"If I could give them [my team] an over or two in the top half of the game, in the top six [overs], then that makes me more valuable. I was always thinking about how I can add one more thing to what I already have."

"Whether I get the new ball in the IPL is dependent on the combination of the team and what the team requires of me in the middle and death overs. All I want to do is show them that I'm ready to bowl with the new ball if they need me," he added.