HomeFeatureWPL 2024: 'Different Kind Of Beast' Shreyanka Patil Earns The Purple Cap;...

WPL 2024: ‘Different Kind Of Beast’ Shreyanka Patil Earns The Purple Cap; Washing Away Earlier Demons

Often regarded as one of the findings of the Inaguaral WPL in 2023, Shreyanka Patil, the offspinner was called the special talent for the future by Ellyse Perry, one of the modern greats of the game. Another stalwart of the game, Sophie Devine also said last year that due to her all-around skill and attitude towards the game, she is going to play for India in years to come.

The 21-year-old, Patil, the silver lining for RCB last year, not only made these prophecies true within a year but also played an instrumental role in the knock-out matches in RCB’s maiden title trump journey, including a 4-wicket haul in the final against the high-flying Delhi Capitals. After the first innings of the final, she stated that when the pitch offers some kind of turn, she turns out to be a different kind of beast. And that beast ended up becoming the Purple Cap winner for this season with 13 scalps, the highest for any bowler.

In between her two WPLs, Patil however had to tackle the challenges that came along, playing at the highest level. Shreyanka Patil, who threw her dice to become a fast bowler, leg spinner and even wicketkeeper in her initial days, finally stuck to her off-spinner role one week before the U-16 trials for her stateside.

One who wanted to finish games like ace Indian wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik, Patil did not have plans to become a batter, but once she worked with her coach Arjun Dev, gradual development in her batting led to her inclusion into the Karnataka middle order. After a glorious campaign in 2023, where she batted at a strike rate of 152, more than anyone in the side, she was selected for the India A in the ACC Emerging Asia Cup. 

Shreyanka Patil notched her first win as South Zone skipper. [Image: Getty]
Shreyanka Patil notched her first win as South Zone skipper. [Image: Getty]
India ‘A’ started their journey with a comfortable 9-wicket victory with 88 balls to spare. And, Shreyanka Patil, playing her first international match picked up 5 wickets for just 2 runs in her three overs for India A, to bundle Hong Kong at a mere 34 runs. She was brought into the attack in the 9th over when Mariko Hill and Marina Lamplough had added 10 runs for the 4th wicket.

Shreyanka Patil whose inclusion in the Indian A side was based on her stellar WPL performances completed her five-wicket haul as she cleaned up Ruchitha Venkatesh for 1. In her three overs, only one run came from the bat as she conceded one wide and one leg bye. It was difficult to judge anyone other, rather than her as the player of the match for her figure of 3-1-2-5.

Arjun Dev, who has been nurturing her for the last couple of years, first in Dravid-Padukone Centre of Excellence in Bengaluru and then in his NICE academy where Patil was the first female cricketer, obviously very happy with her feat and said that she is still in the process of progress. To him, the way she got her wicket in the very first ball might have boosted her morale while as a coach he is very much happy by the way the ball came out of her hand.

“When she gets her technical cues right she becomes a different bowler, the balls came out of her hand really nice. Wickets were the by-product of the right technique.” Speaking with Women’s CricInsight about the strength she has, Dev said that Patil knows her role and responsibility of being an aggressive spinner. “There will be times when she could be expensive but that won’t stop her from going for wickets from going for the wickets.”

After her stunning show with the ball, Shreyanka Patil expressed gratitude for her fifer on debut. She said it was the perfect beginning to her India career.

“I am very grateful to be wearing this jersey,” Shreyanka Patil told ACC. “Since I was a kid, I have dreamed of wearing this jersey and I won’t stop dreaming, I’ll continue dreaming, but the thing is that it’s just in the beginning and thoroughly enjoyed this fifer because it means a lot to me. On a debut getting five wickets, just an amazing feeling.”

In the Women’s Caribbean Premier League, Patil was the first Indian to play and she picked up 9 wickets to become the highest wicket-taker. With her progress, she was first tracked to the Indian side in December when England and Australia visited. In her debut match in T20I against England she picked wickets of England skipper Heather Knight and Amy Jones. In her third match in the senior colours, she was judged the player of the match for the 3/19 and two catches. She ran through the English middle order with her crafty off-spin, to reduce their total to 8 for 76 in the 15th over.

ALSO READ: WPL 2024: Royal Challengers Bangalore – Comprehensive Season Review

Shreyanka Patil
Shreyanka Patil

Harmanpreet Kaur used her in the death overs and she lived up to the expectations of her skipper in her short career. In her next match against Australia, she got the wicket of Grace Harris and when asked to bowl the last over she removed Wareham. However in the next match, defending a modest total of 130, Patil got the wicket of McGrath in her 3rd over, just giving away 5 runs. This prompted Hramanprret Kaur to turn to her in the 19th over when Australia needed 15 from the last 12 balls.

She hoped that if Shreyanka could contain some runs that could give Pooja Vastrakar ( 1/8 in 2 overs) the slightest chance in the last over. But that day Litchfield got the better of her and after she hit a couple of boundaries in the first three balls, Patil’s RCB teammate, Ellyse Perry sealed the match with a six over midwicket. After the match, Harmanpreet Kaur said that in the 19th over, if Shreyanka was on target, it would have made a huge difference for us.

 Shreyanka made her debut in the ODI against Australia. After taking 1/43 in her debut, just like her T20I career, she was on the verge of taking a hat trick in her 2nd ODI as well. She removed Beth Mooney and Tahlia McGrath in back-to-back balls, both trapped in front and later completed her tally of 3/57 with the wicket of Ash Gardner. She conceded 32 dot balls in her 60 balls, the most by any bowlers for India that day. 

The offspinner from Karnataka came to the 2md season of WPL with international exposure, but her first couple of matches did not go according to her expectations. Only 2 wickets came from her first 4 matches before she was dropped from the playing XI. A couple of matches later when she made a comeback she made it with a bang, taking 4 wickets against Delhi. And one of the aspects of her bowling was how she bowled in the death overs. Along with Sophie Molineux, she turned out to be the perfect death bowler for RCB in the last four matches.   

Against Delhi, after trapping Lanning in her opening spell, she came back in the 18th over. Jemimah and Capsey were in their full blaze. Patil not only contained them but also removed Rodrigues 58(36) in that over, conceding only 4 runs. In the last over, while Delhi was racing toward 190+ score, after coring 18 from the previous over, Patil not only picked up Jess Jonassen and Alice Capsey but also didn’t concede a single boundary in her last 12 balls. Though RCB lost that match by a single run, seemed like Patil had found her mojo. She bowled wicket to wicket and batters found it difficult to hit away her yorker length balls.

Her 4/26 was followed by 1/3  in the must-win match against Mumbai Indians, the match that would be remembered for Perry’s 6/15. This was followed by another impressive performance in the eliminator against MI. Defending a modest total of 135, RCB kept MI in check from the beginning. Despite that MI was cruising for another final as they needed 20 from the last 18 balls. Patil was brought into the attack for her last against Kaur and Kerr, both of them could finish the game in no time.

But it was Patil’s day. She contained both of them in her first five balls while giving away only 4 runs. In the last ball of the over Patil flighted the ball once again and Harmanpreet stepped out to hoick but she was held on by Devine at long-on. It’s kind of redemptive.

Harmanpreet fell at 33 from 30 and the rest of the batters failed to score 16 from the last 12 balls. RCB defeated MI for the 2nd consecutive team by 5 runs to qualify for the finals. And in that victory, the last three overs bowled by spinners including Patil’s played an instrumental role.

Shreyanka Patil with Virat Kohli
Shreyanka Patil with Virat Kohli

When Patil came to bowl in the final, RCB was creeping back into the match. After DC made 61 in the powerplay, Sophie Moniluex took three wickets in her 3rd over and Delhi was soon reduced to 65/3. 4 singles came from Patil’s first over. But after a blistering start, pressure was mounting for DC as they found it difficult to rotate the strike after spinners were brought into the attack.

The surface was assisting the spinners too. Patil trapped Lanning in front with a delivery that turned back and Lanning caught insight the crease while trying to work it on the legside. Mani was the next to fall to Patil, with her failed attempt to play a sweep. Reddy’s resistance ended by a quicker and Bhatia was caught brilliantly by Richa down the leg to give Patil her 2nd 4-wicket haul in 4 matches.

Her 4/12 was the best among the four spinners RCB used that day, and though DC batters should blame themselves for the horrible shot selection against spinners without accessing the condition well, that doesn’t take credit away from Patil and Co for making the batters go for the big shots.

While WPL helped her to sharpen her skill as a cricketer it has also helped her understand her abilities as well. While she learnt about the fact that overfocusing on the result or pushing too hard can be detrimental to success, the experiences she got, playing with the international players gave her the desired confidence that she belongs to cricket and can lead a bowling attack.

One who used to cheer RCB from the stands a couple of years back now earned the Purple Cap, becoming the highest wicket-taker, in her 2nd WPL season, amidst the big guns of international cricket. But perhaps rather than the trophy and the Purple Cap, Shreyanka would cherish the moment when her idol Virat Kohli acknowledged her performance by saying that she really bowled well. “He Knows My Name”.

Shreynaka Patil has arrived, not only her craft with the balls but as a gun fielder under the supervision of Biju George and the finest hitter of the ball.

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