'I was driven constantly to get better and actualise that potential. I never at any moment felt that the dream (of playing for India) sort of running away from me.'
India seamer Harshal Patel, who impressed on his international debut, feels the secret behind his success was all about realising his limitations and actualising his true potential.
Harshal made his international debut late, just four days shy of his 31st birthday.
But the Royal Challengers Bangalore pacer picked up from where he left in his record-breaking IPL 2021 season and returned with impressive figures of 2 for 25 in the second T20I against New Zealand, which India won by seven wickets to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
"I knew that I could play at the highest level. I could do well at the highest level with the ball and with the bat as well," Harshal said in the post-match virtual media conference in Ranchi.
"I was driven constantly to get better and actualise that potential. I never at any moment felt that the dream is sort of running away from me."
After taking 23 wickets at an impressive average of 11 in the 2008-09 U-19 Vinoo Mankad Trophy, Harshal made his senior debut for Gujarat in the same season in List A cricket.
He also played for India in the 2010 Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand and bagged an IPL contract with Mumbai Indians.
But it took him sometime to play Ranji Trophy as he could not find a place in his home state Gujarat. He then shifted to Haryana from where his journey started in Ranji Trophy 2011-12 season, where he pocketed 28 wickets to be picked up by RCB.
Against New Zealand in the second T20I in Ranchi on Friday, Harshal took the wickets of a well-settled Daryl Mitchell and Glenn Phillips in the crucial middle overs when the Kiwis were looking to capitalise on the explosive start.
He was seen using the crease well, creating angles and also was smart with his slower ball that had given him a dream IPL 2021 season, where he finished as the joint highest wicket-taker with 32 scalps which included a fifer and hat-trick against Mumbai Indians.
Harshal revealed that he realised his limitations after the grind in domestic cricket and worked on his true potential.
"Being a fast bowler you want to bowl fast. But then I realised that my speed ceiling is probably at 135kph and if I'm really in very good rhythm I can probably clock close to 140.
"But I will never be able to hold consistently at higher than 140. So that's something I realised and then I started working on other things, other skills that I needed to do well at this level," he said.
Harshal also realised that he had a massive lateral flexion so he worked on his angles to become a skillful bowler, something he learnt the hard way in domestic cricket.
"I don't have a bio mechanically perfect action. I have a massive lateral flexion at the point of delivery, so I always wanted to correct that because we are told that you know you're more injury prone if you don't correct that," he said.
"Also the height of your delivery also gets reduced if you have a lateral flexion and you won't get a lot of mounts and all those things.
"But what I realised after playing seven-eight years of domestic cricket is that lateral flexion gave me an angle which was difficult for the batters to line up to.
"That made my slow balls more effective. If I talk about red ball cricket, that big angle into the batsman allows me to bowl outswingers from a very tight line and beat the batters when it straightens. I started looking at that as an advantage," he added.
Harshal said he worked hard to convert his weaknesses into his strengths and that paid huge dividends.
"Angles have always been a big part of my game and I use them to good effect. I think that's another thing I realised that I can add to my repertoire without trying too many different things.
"So, I bowl yorkers from close to the stumps, some from the corner of the crease, and that has a massive impact on where the ball lands and where the batsman plays the ball. It's a massive advantage and a massive weapon for me," he concluded.