The Indian Premier League (IPL) is one of the most anticipated cricket tournaments in the world. With teams packed with some of the best international and local players, the IPL never fails to entertain fans every year. The 2021 edition of the tournament was no different, with nail-biting matches and incredible performances from players.
At the end of the tournament, there was one player who stood out from the rest and was voted as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of IPL 2021. That player was none other than Harshal Patel, the right-arm medium-fast bowler from the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
Harshal Patel had a phenomenal season with the ball, picking up 32 wickets in just 15 matches. He finished as the leading wicket-taker of the tournament, ahead of some of the biggest names in world cricket such as Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult, and Rashid Khan. Patel’s impressive performance with the ball helped RCB reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Patel’s journey in IPL 2021 began with a bang, as he picked up a five-wicket haul in the very first game of the season against the defending champions Mumbai Indians. From there on, he continued to impress with his consistent performances throughout the tournament.
One of the standout moments of Patel’s campaign was his hat-trick against the Kolkata Knight Riders. He became only the third bowler in IPL history to take a hat-trick on his birthday, after Amit Mishra and Sam Curran. Patel’s hat-trick included the wickets of Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, and Andre Russell, which helped RCB restrict KKR to a below-par total of 154/6.
Another notable performance by Patel was his four-wicket haul against the Rajasthan Royals. He picked up the important wickets of Sanju Samson, Shivam Dube, and Riyan Parag, and finished with figures of 4/17 in his four overs. Patel’s performance helped RCB defend a total of 177 against the Royals.
Patel’s success in IPL 2021 can be attributed to his ability to bowl consistently in the death overs. He bowled 61 balls in the death overs (16-20) and picked up 18 wickets at an average of 10.94 and an economy rate of 7.08. These are exceptional numbers for any bowler, let alone someone who is playing in the high-scoring T20 format.
Apart from his bowling skills, Patel also proved to be handy with the bat. He scored important runs down the order for RCB and finished the tournament with 52 runs at a strike rate of 160. In the match against the Mumbai Indians, Patel played a crucial knock of 31* off just 13 balls to help RCB post a competitive total of 165/8.
Patel’s performances in IPL 2021 earned him praise from all quarters. His captain Virat Kohli described him as a “game-changer”, while former India cricketer Virender Sehwag called him the “find of the season”. Even the opposition players were in awe of Patel’s bowling skills. Rajasthan Royals batsman Sanju Samson said that Patel was “unplayable” when he was on song.
In conclusion, Harshal Patel was a deserving winner of the Most Valuable Player award in IPL 2021. His impressive performances with both bat and ball helped RCB reach the playoffs, and his ability to bowl consistently in the death overs made him a valuable asset for the team. Patel has now established himself as one of the best T20 bowlers in the world, and his performances in IPL 2021 will be remembered for years to come.