India pacer Harshal Patel on Thursday said that he is not worried that batters have started anticipating his variations and just wants to focus on the execution of his plans in order to stay one step ahead of them.
In the first T20I in Delhi, Rassie van der Dussen had smashed Harshal for three sixes and a four in an over to turn the game around. After the match, the Proteas had said that post the first two sixes, he knew Harshal would turn to his slower balls.
“People have been trying to anticipate for the past two years. To be very honest, with every bowler, the longer they play, the more the opposition will realise what their strengths are, what the patterns are, and try to adapt to it. But as a bowler, my job is to stay one step ahead of batters,” Harshal said on the eve of the fourth T20I against South Africa.
“At the end of the day, you can have 15 different plans, but on a particular day, in a pressure situation, if you don’t go out and execute with confidence, everything doesn’t really fall in place. So my focus has always been on how to read the game better in that particular moment and how to execute the best possible delivery at that point in time,” he added.
Sharing the formula behind his meteoric rise in T20s especially in the last couple of years, the 31-year-old said he doesn’t bother much about his individual speed and relies on variations, which have been delivering results to the pacer.
“I can’t worry about pace because I can’t bowl as fast as Umran Malik. I have to develop skills to render myself effective at the international level. I have never been an express fast bowler though on a good day I can go near 140 kmph,” he said.
“My focus has always been to develop skills around my bowling and whatever limitations and advantages I have in my bowling,” he added.
Harshal is currently the joint-leading wicket-taker in the series, with six wickets in three games. In the third T20I at Visakhapatnam, the pitch was on the slower side, which suited Harshal’s style of bowling, and he duly picked up 4 for 25 in 3.1 overs.
“Although there was not a lot of variable bounce or lateral movement from the pitch, it was definitely slow. So that allowed us to bowl hard length and slower balls into the pitch. It was difficult to clear the boundary from those lengths,” the pacer said.
“I would certainly prefer playing on slower pitches because it allows you a bit of fighting chance. If you consistently keep playing on pitches like Delhi, it can hamper your confidence a little bit. We also have world-class spinners in the team, who can bowl well on any pitch, but it does bring them a little more into the game when we have slightly slower pitches and slightly bigger ground dimensions,” he added.
Head coach Rahul Dravid, stand-in captain Rishabh Pant have spoken about how the team has been building towards the T20 World Cup, to be held in Australia in October-November. Harshal said while the World Cup is at the back of their minds, they are also focused on winning this series.
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“To be honest, you cannot play your cricket thinking too much about the future or past. Like everyone has said before as well, the World Cup is at the back of our minds and we are trying to work towards that goal. But at the same time, we are 2-1 behind in the series, so the focus is on how to win the next two games. After that, we are going to Ireland, so things will move towards that direction but at this point, our focus is on how to win this series,” he said.
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