Former New Zealand all rounder Chris Harris was perhaps the first bowler who made an innocuous bowling style look dangerous in the years when he was a regular in the limited over set up for his country. Rajat Bhatia is a product of that same school of slow medium bowling that ends up confusing batsmen to no end with a potent mix of cutters, slower balls and a little bit of reverse swing from time to time. He plied his trade with the Delhi Daredevils in the first 3 seasons of the IPL and then switched over to the Kolkata Knight Riders; however, something that has been a common thread across his IPL career is that he has been a regular for both the teams across the 6 seasons of the tournament.
Bhatia’s contribution usually goes unnoticed in the larger scheme of things but over the years he has been absolutely pivotal in keeping the runs in check in the interval between the 7th over and the 15th over, when a game can take a turn for the worse if too many runs are conceded. Although he has not been able to make it to the Indian team, he has had an excellent domestic career and his performances in IPL have earned him the recognition that every cricketer craves for.
RoleRajat Bhatia has his own limitations as a bowler and the most important thing is that he knows them, which is why he is coveted by most captains. For instance, he does not have any pace to speak of and hence one would never see him trying to bowl a bouncer as a surprise weapon; although he does slip in an occasional quicker delivery which ends up trapping the batsman. As mentioned earlier, Bhatia is primarily a bowler who is supposed to keep one end bottled up in the middle overs and he usually does the duty with aplomb due to his accuracy as well as subtle variations of pace.
The IPL has not been fair to cricketers from India who have never represented the country and hence players like Rajat Bhatia who bring so much value into a team are paid a fixed amount of money irrespective of their performances. However, the situation will change at the 2014 auctions since the IPL governing council has now allowed domestic cricketers to be included in auction pool and hence one can expect some intense competition for the signature of Rajat Bhatia when he goes under the hammer in February next year.
Best PerformanceIt was in the second edition of the IPL in 2009 when Rajat Bhatia delivered his best performances till date. It was a man of the match winning performance against the eventual champions Deccan Chargers. Delhi had scored an imposing 177 but the Chargers were also going great guns when Bhatia came into the attack. In the space of 2.4 overs, he won the game for his side with superb figures of 4/15.
Bhatia’s economy rate over a period of six seasons has been remarkably consistent perhaps with the exception of the 2010 season when it went for a toss. However, it needs to be pointed out that he only played 5 games and hence did not have an opportunity to resurrect it. An economy rate of 7.37 is highly commendable for a slow-medium bowler who does not actually pose a genuine wicket taking threat. In addition to that, his strike rate of 22.19 shows that he takes a wicket in every game in which he bowls his full quota. Undoubtedly any captain would like to have a bowler in his side who does not go for anything more than 30 runs in his 4 overs and also takes a wicket or two.
Did you know?
Bhatia loves beaches and prefers to doze off in Goa whenever he gets the opportunity. In addition to that he is a huge dog lover and he, along with his wife Neha, has a Labrador who is called Brownie. Rajat Bhatia became a father this year in July.
By Soham Samaddar
Image Source: Kolkata Knight Riders@Facebook