Harmeet Singh Bansal’s IPL statistics won’t plead a second glance, especially when you compare them with those of Pragyan Ojha or RP Singh, the Deccan Chargers’ leading wicket-takers. But then, T20 is about getting the basics right, and the instructions to the strapping lad were simple too.
“My job was to tie down the scoring and not concede more than 20 runs in my four overs,” Harmeet told HT from Hyderabad.
Figures of 3-0-15-0 and 4-0-23-2 in the semifinal and final confirm that the job was well done. Although the 21-year old accounted for only three wickets in the tournament, they were crucial dismissals — Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Mark Boucher.
“Ganguly was my first T20 scalp so it will always remain special,” said Harmeet, who is yet to play Ranji Trophy for Punjab.
Playing “serious” cricket since the age of 15, Harmeet started to draw attention only at the turn of the year. He returned match figures of 10/69 in the final of the under-22 CK Nayudu Trophy against Mumbai at the Eden Gardens, triggering a collapse that handed Punjab their first title win. “That boosted my confidence. When it came to the IPL though, I was given the specific role of checking the run-rate,” said Harmeet, adding that Adam Gilchrist stayed up to the stumps to prevent the batsmen from stepping out to his bowling.
For the boy from Chandigarh, rubbing shoulders with Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds and Herschelle Gibbs was an unforgettable experience . “They were very involved and gave us tips whenever possible. Gilchrist told me about how to bowl to batsmen before each match.”
The Chargers are all set to play the Champions League later this year and Harmeet said the bowlers would have to try more variation to avoid getting slaughtered on the dead pitches in India.
“In South Africa, the conditions were helpful and we were asked to stick to a good length. In India, slower balls and yorkers would be much more effective and I am trying to get a grip on them.”