IPL 2020: Leading the side comes naturally - Parthiv Patel aims to assist Virat Kohli to end RCB’s trophy drought | Exclusive

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAritra Mukherjee
Sep 09, 2020 10:36 AM IST

IPL 2020: In an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, ‘natural leader’ Parthiv Patel says the young cricketers of Royal Challengers Bangalore are comfortable around him. The wicket-keeper batsman also talks about playing in front of empty stands and RCB’s quest for the maiden title.

Parthiv Patel is one of the only four cricketers– captain Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Yuzvendra Chahal being the others – in the current Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) squad who was part of their set-up when the IPL bandwagon last travelled to UAE in 2014.

Parthiv Patel during a training session ahead of IPL 2020(RCB/tiwtter)
Parthiv Patel during a training session ahead of IPL 2020(RCB/tiwtter)

“We’ve played here in 2014 but six years is a long time. The world is different, nothing is the same,” Parthiv tells Hindustan Times in an exclusive chat ahead of IPL 2020.

Keeping the pandemic intervention aside, a lot has indeed changed. Kohli has graduated from being one of the best all-format batsmen to perhaps the best one currently. De Villiers has retired from international cricket and Chahal has established himself as one of India’s leading spinners in white-ball cricket.

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Through their smooth upward rise in international cricket, the three pillars of RCB remained with the franchise in their quest to win their maiden IPL. But not Parthiv. His journey was a bit different and not exactly smooth. It never is with Parthiv.

The left-hander was released after the 2014 season and was bought back ahead of 2018. In between these four years, Parthiv made a comeback to the Indian side after eight years, kept wickets, opened the batting in South African conditions, put his hand up every time the team required his services. It was the same with RCB, he slid down to middle order in 2018 then got back to opening the batting permanently last year and had his most impactful season in IPL, scoring 373 runs at a strike rate of 139.17.

“My role? I’m a wicket-keeper batsman, I’ll keep wickets and bat normally,” says Parthiv followed by loud laughs. It’s another fact that Kohli was only 12 when Parthiv made his India debut in 2002 and De Villiers was still two years away from donning the South African jersey. That’s just Parthiv Patel, it took a second attempt to make him confess that he is now part of the leadership group of RCB.

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“Leading the side comes naturally, there are a lot of young players (in the RCB squad), who are quite comfortable chatting with me. I try and help them out, make sure they are in good space, that’s something you have to do as a senior player, help out the junior guys,” adds Parthiv, who led Gujarat to their Ranji Trophy title in 2017.

After the left-hander’s superb last season, there ideally should be no questions about his batting position in RCB. But when it comes to the IPL, hardly anything is on the expected lines. The arrival of Australia limited-overs skipper Aaron Finch has thrown an interesting headache in front of the RCB team management about their opening combination.

“Thankfully and fortunately I’m not Mike Hesson (team director). So I don’t have to make those decisions. It’s about the team, it’s never about the individual player. Whatever the team decides I’ll be alright with it,” Parthiv says.

RCB has an entirely different support staff spearheaded by team director Mike Hesson and head coach Simon Katich. Parthiv says, Hesson has brought in calmness in the dressing room.

“I think there’s a lot of calmness around the group and a lot of positive vibes with him (Mike Hesson around). The season’s new, everyone is looking forward to it. Mike has been a successful coach all over the world. So far whatever practice sessions we’ve had, he has added great value. He gives importance to each player of the squad. Hopefully, we can replicate this vibe and practice into performance (when the IPL starts).”

Unlike the majority of RCB cricketers, Parthiv has won the IPL thrice – once with CSK in 2010 and twice with Mumbai Indians in 2015 and 2017 – but the 35-year-old knows the importance to end RCB’s trophy drought.

“RCB fans have always been loyal, they’ve been a great support for us throughout all these years. Like every year, we’ll be going into the tournament with the hope of winning it. As one of the senior players I can assure you that we are going play our heart out in every game and try and win whenever we step on the field,” he adds.

The left-hander was however quick to add the challenges of playing in a ‘different environment’ this year.

“It’s obviously going to be different. It’s not the same playing in Chinnaswamy, playing at home makes a whole lot of difference. There is always a huge crowd, there is a lot of buzz among people. This time it will be without the crowd, we’ll be playing in different conditions. Hopefully, by playing cricket we can bring joy to the world and to the Indian people.”

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    Aritra Mukherjee, who happens to be a journalist, is in an eternal relationship with food and sleep. He can, however, sacrifice both or at least the latter for his love-affair with cricket. 'He said,' 'he added,' 'he signed off' are some of his favourite phrases. When not juggling between food, sleep and cricket, he wastes time by surfing OTT platforms.

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