Before the start of Wednesday’s match at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, Royal Challengers Bangalore right-arm medium-pacer Harshal Patel had never bowled a maiden over in IPL.
Having played in 64 IPL matches before this game and sending down 214.4 overs in 12 matches for DC and 52 for RCB, Patel did not experience what bowling a maiden over in T20 meant.
What started as one became two in his first two overs as the struggling Kolkata Knight Riders batsmen failed to pick his line and length that was around the off-stump, some of them short enough for the batsmen to let it go unharmed. What made Patel’s maiden overs even sweeter was that he took a wicket in each of them, those of the England limited-overs specialist wicketkeeper-batsman, Sam Billings, and the big-hitting West Indian, Andre Russell. On song, Billings and Russell could have torn apart the bowlers and taken the total beyond RCB’s reach. But, that was not to be.
Not only did Patel’s maiden overs prove to be the turning point of the match but also claiming the wickets of two independent match-winners applied the brakes on the KKR innings, which saw them being bowled out for 128, a target, though had initial hiccups from the RCB top-order and also later in the innings, but was met in the end through Dinesh Karthik and Patel himself, who hit two vital fours in the penultimate over.
The 31-year-old Patel from Gujarat came in to bowl in the 12th over when KKR were 83 for six. He removed the right-handed Billings, whose awkward pull went straight down to Virat Kohli at long-on. A rare wicket maiden for the 2021 Purple Cap winner with 32 wickets became double delight for him.
In his second over, Patel, who made his T20I debut last November against New Zealand and went on to play in eight of them so far, picking up 11 wickets, kept Russell guessing with his line. If it was around the off stump once, it was around middle and leg on another occasion. Russell, who was ready to swat his willow at anything short and pick the boundary on the on-side, had hit three such shots over the boundary previously.
The West Indian was frustrated with the varying lines Patel bowled and for not being able to beat the fielders off the first four deliveries of Patel’s second over. Off the fifth delivery, Russell went for the slog against a widish delivery and edged to wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik to be out for an innings top-score of 25.
Patel, who is RCB’s joint most expensive buy in the February auctions at ₹10.75 crore along with the other bowling hero of his team, Sri Lanka leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, conceded his first run when KKR number 10 Umesh Yadav’s pull was not connected properly and a single taken to mid-on.
Patel finished with 4-2-11-2, he’d have conceded four less runs but for a mess at short third man by Hasaranga, the ball escaping between his legs to the boundary. Two wicket maidens are a rarity in T20 and Patel turned the match in RCB’s favour.