Like every year, the ongoing fourteenth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has seen tremendous performances by players belonging to different franchises.
From the leading run-scorers to wicket-takers, many players have impressed one and all with their consistency in the world’s toughest T20 competition. But in a battle of batters and bowlers, who could become the ‘Player of the Tournament’?
Well, former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir has the answer. Gambhir, who led Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to two IPL titles, has picked Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) bowler Harshal Patel as the ‘Player of the Tournament’ in IPL 2021.
In a chat with ESPNcricinfo post RCB’s 4-wicket defeat to KKR in Eliminator at Sharjah on Monday, Gambhir highlighted Harshal’s tremendous skills and immense contribution to his side through their journey of playoffs.
Gambhir spoke about Harshal’s ability to rise high in pressure situations and deliver for his captain Virat Kohli whenever he needed a wicket for the majority of the tournament.
“Look at Harshal Patel today; he bowled the fifth over, which was probably the toughest after Garton went for 15-20 in the fourth over… He bowled the fifth over and got the wicket. He bowled in the death and got wickets. So he’s done probably the toughest thing that RCB were expecting him to do, and he came out with flying colours. Irrespective of how many runs and wickets players will get, he’s the player of the tournament for me already,” said Gambhir.
Notably, Harshal had a dream run with the ball this year. He finished the competition as the highest wicket-taker. The right-armer picked up 32 scalps in 15 matches at an average of 14.34 and strike rate of 10.56 with one 5-wicket and one 4-wicket haul, including a hat-trick as well.
Gambhir reckoned Harshal deserved to play the final as he’s been the standout performer for the Challengers. The cricketer-turned-politician lauded Harshal for carrying the death bowling responsibilities for RCB, which has always been a concern for the Bangalore-based franchise.
“It’s unfortunate. He deserved to play in the final. He’s been the standout performer for them… The way he has carried on the burden of death bowling for RCB, which has been a concern for so many years… he’s literally handled that pressure single-handedly. Hats off to him, and he’s had a fabulous, fabulous IPL,” added Gambhir.