IPL 2022: "We’re sending you home", Harshal Patel recalls chat with Daniel Vettori in RCB camp

Harshal Patel was sent back home midway through his stint with RCB in IPL 2017. 
 
Harshal Patel

Harshal Patel faced his biggest rejection and lowest career point while with RCB in IPL 2017. 

Today when Harshal Patel is an integral part of every playing sheet for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), it begs belief that the fast-bowler was once dispensable to the team's cause, so much so that they once sent him home midway through an IPL season. 

During his stint with the popular franchise back in IPL 2017, the then RCB head coach Daniel Vettori asked Patel to leave the squad and travel home as his services were not required. 

Recalling the conversation with Vettori on YouTube show "Breakfast With Champions" with Gaurav Kapur, the 31-year-old Haryana and Indian fast-bowler termed it his lowest point. It was, in Harshal Patel's words, the "epitome of rejection", something which later became the turning point of his career. 

Harshal Patel recalls lowest career vibe in IPL 2017 

Before the pandemic made biosecurity bubbles a thing, franchises used to send some of their non-active players back home during the season to minimise expenses. Being one such player in IPL 2017, Harshal Patel felt hurt and dejected. 

"I played 5 games in 2016 and then didn’t play anything after that. 2017 again same situation. I was even sent home once," reminisced the fast-bowler, who is now a mainstay of the Faf du Plessis side on the back of consistent performances over the last couple of seasons. 

"This used to happen a lot earlier because if you’re keeping a player, there’s his hotel room, daily allowances, you’ve to take him to practice, book his flight tickets. I vividly remember what happened."

"Avinash Vaidya called me in the room and he said ‘Dan (Vettori) wants to talk to you. And we were staying at Ritz-Carlton. So he called me to the breakfast area and told me ‘We don’t see you playing for at least 4-5 more games so we’re sending you home. But we’ll call you back (if needed). It was the epitome of rejection, that you aren’t even in the team," he added. 

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Later in the season, as RCB were knocked out of the playoffs race, Harshal Patel chanced his luck with Vettori and checked if the head coach and the team require his services again. Vettori, and the then skipper Virat Kohli, opted to redraft Patel in the line-up for their final league-stage encounter against the Delhi Capitals (DC). 

"Then I think after 4-5 games, RCB was knocked out, we were not going to qualify. So I messaged Vettori saying ‘Give me a game’. That was the first time I actually sold myself to anyone. They called me for the last game and we were playing Delhi at Kotla," he recalled. 

"The first over I bowled went for some 14-15 runs and then the nerves settled. I said ‘Already been hit for 15 runs, how much worse can it get?’. Then I ended up picking three wickets and won the game for the team. I was Player of the Match in that game. And then next year was the 2018 auction."

As life would have it, the opportunity to play for RCB again turned out to be an audition for Harshal to impress the Delhi think-tank, who bid for him at the following year's auction. The pacer spent his next three seasons with the Delhi side, before being traded to the RCB ahead of a breakthrough IPL 2021. 

He took an unprecedented 32 wickets from 15 matches in the tournament to win the tag of "Purple Patel" in reference to him wearing the purple cap. A bumper season with RCB unlocked doors to the India recognition in T20Is against New Zealand last November. The pacer was repurchased by the Bangalore-based franchise at this year's mega auction for INR 10.75 crores.