'If the law allows me, I will definitely do it': India pacer welcomes MCC's new rules; 'Mankading a very absurd thing'

Published on Mar 16, 2022 07:33 AM IST

Barring Stuart Broad, the latest law updates rolled out by the MCC have been warmly accepted, and India's 31-year-old pacer is no exception.

Indian pacer Harshal Patel (in pic) is looking forward to the MCC's new law updates. (BCCI)
Indian pacer Harshal Patel (in pic) is looking forward to the MCC's new law updates. (BCCI)
By, New Delhi

Barring Stuart Broad, the latest law updates rolled out by the MCC have been warmly accepted. The permanent ban of saliva to shine the cricket ball, no more crossing ends during a dismissal and the green light to run a batter out at the non-striker's end for backing up too much – previously known as the 'Mankad' mode of dismissal – have left former and current cricketers thrilled. (Also Read: 'He's really unlucky. Wasn't even a guaranteed starter': RCB coach makes big statement on India pacer's ODI, T20I growth)

The instances of bowlers running out a non-striker for walking down the pitch even before the ball has been delivered has thrown open the 'Spirit of Cricket' debate. There has been none more emphatic than R Ashwin's dismissal of Jos Buttler during 2019 IPL, and ever since, the clamours towards this mode of dismissal has mostly been frowned upon. Finally, with the MCC legalising it, no more will eyebrows be raised.

RCB's Harshal Patel for one could not be happier at the new amendments. While the India quick kept his thoughts reserved on the saliva ban, he sounded excited to have the full freedom of disturbing the stumps while running in to bowl, provided the opportunity arises.

"I can't say much about the saliva thing because I haven't played a lot of red-ball cricket in the last two years. But yeah, if you are playing in cold conditions, people who don't sweat, what are they going to do? How are they going to shine the ball? So that question remains to be answered for sure. And the Mankad thing, I felt it was a very absurd thing for us to discuss as a cricketing community because if it's in the rule book how can it be against the spirit of the game?" Harshal responded to a query from The Hindustan Times.

Harshal provided a case in point to prove his stance. During the 2019 World Cup final between England and New Zealand, as the game headed towards a nerve-racking finish, the ball deflected off a diving Ben Stokes' bat and gave England four runs. Even as Stokes raised both his arms in the air, almost as if pleading not guilty. It was a questionable call but one that stayed and was a game changing moment in helping England becoming World champions.

More recently, during last year's IPL, Ashwin was involved in a heated exchange with Tim Southee and Eoin Morgan. This time around, the KKR unit wasn't pleased with the Indian opting for a run after the ball had ricocheted off Pant's arms and gone astray. These incidents are classic examples and prove that when it comes to cricketing laws and the Spirit of the Game going hand-in-hand, the answer is always grey.

"Let me give you an example. People say you shouldn't run after a throw hits the bat. Did you do it on purpose? No. But say, if you're playing the World Cup final, and you need a run to win and the ball deflects off the bat, are you not going to run? If you're not and stay consistent in that situation, then it's ok, that's your call, but I will always run because I play to win and do it within the laws of the game. If the laws allow me to do something, I will definitely do it," mentioned Harshal.

With the IPL approaching, Harshal is gearing up for a repeat of last year’s sublime showing. That RCB invested in Harshal a whopping amount of 10.75 speaks volumes of their trust in the India pacer. And rightly so. Why would you drop a player who has taken over 30 wickets in a single edition of the IPL? But for Harshal, while there will always be the pressure of expectations to deal with, he is paying equal attention to a couple of traits he feels has remained underutilised.

"All I can do is I can showcase the skill of batting during the practice games. That's how I got the role of the death bowler earlier. I do feel I am under-utilised as a batter and have more to offer. If I can show something spectacular ahead of the tournament and the management sees that they can utilise me in certain situations, I will be very happy to subject myself to those," added Harshal.

"I feel like I have all the building blocks of a good T20 bowler or any format for that matter. I want to get tighter, accurate, and consistent with my execution because I have been playing the game at the professional level for the past 12 years. So, I understand and read the game and situation well. I have my strengths and weaknesses. I will continue to add different dimensions to my skillset. Like utilising angles or maybe developing another slower ball, which I can add to my armoury. Mentally, I want to be more consistent in thought. I believe consistency in action will bring about consistency in the result. I want to continue to live by the idea."

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    Aditya Bhattacharya is an experienced online sports journalist with a forte in cricket. He has covered the 2016 ICC World T20 in India, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England along with several Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare tournaments across the country. When not working, Aditya can be found either hooked to the PlayStation or sharpening the chords on a guitar, while straddling binge-watching and shadow-practicing like Ajay Devgn on two bikes.

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