In the latest episode of Breakfast With Champions, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s pacer Harshal Patel talked about his journey from being a blue-collar worker in the USA to getting an IPL contract worth INR 10.75 crore in 2022.
Harshal reminisced about his struggling days as a teenager in the USA, when he used to work for over 12 hours, all for a meager $35 a day.
“I used to work at this Pakistani guy’s perfume store in Elizabeth, New Jersey. I couldn’t speak a word of English because I had studied in a Gujarati medium throughout,” said Harshal.
“My aunt and uncle used to go to their offices, and they would drop me on the way. So at 7 am I would be dropped and the store would open at 9 am. Two hours I used to sit at the Elizabeth railway station. Do my work till 7.30, 8. So 12-13 hours a day and I used to get paid $35 a day.”
It hasn’t been a smooth ride for Harshal, who made his IPL debut way back in 2012. In 2018, he was acquired by Delhi Capitals, and was one of the few players to be retained by the franchise next year. However, he managed only 12 appearances across three seasons for Delhi.
Harshal recalled how he feel betrayed when Delhi Capitals bought him for the base price of Rs 20 lakh. Before the auction, he got a call from multiple franchises who were interested in him.
“It is not about the money, I just wanted to play. This was the 2018 auction. The ironic thing was, there were at least three or four people from different franchises who said we are going to bid for you. But nobody did. I felt like it was a betrayal. I was in a spiral of these dark thoughts,” said Harshal.
Only in 2021, nine years after his IPL debut, did Harshal manage to get everyone’s attention when he claimed 32 wickets in 15 matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore. He also equalled Dwayne Bravo’s record for picking the most number of wickets in an IPL season.
“That is a decision I made after the 2018 auction, that I want to be a valuable player, when those 11 names are being written down I should be the automatic entry. And that drove all my decisions, my decision to take more risks in the game, my decision to be more expressive on the field with my skills. I still can’t believe I took 32 wickets in the IPL in 15 games.”
Then in the mega auction for IPL 2022, Royal Challengers Bangalore snapped him up at Rs 10.75 crore. He is leading the RCB’s pace attack today, alongside Mohammed Siraj, and has taken 10 wickets in eight games.