A right-arm seamer with a big outswinger, Harshal Patel could have moved to the USA with his family, but he stayed on in India to pursue cricket at the insistence of his coach Tarak Trivedi. After taking 23 wickets at an impressive average of 11 in the 2008-09 Under-19 Vinoo Mankad Trophy, Harshal made his List-A debut for Gujarat in 2008-09. Harshal also played for India in the 2010 Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand and soon bagged an IPL contract with Mumbai Indians.
Unable to find a place in the Gujarat side, Harshal moved to Haryana and made an immediate impact in his debut Ranji Trophy season in 2011-12, running through Karnataka and Rajasthan with eight-fors in the quarter-final and semi-final. He finished that Ranji season with 28 wickets and made his IPL debut for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Delhi Daredevils in the 2012 edition.
Harshal, however, was largely seen as a back-up seamer in the franchise set-up, instead of a first-choice option. He did not get a game in IPL 2013, but was bought back by the franchise in the 2014 player auction for INR 40 lakh. While his first-class form dipped in between, he made a strong comeback in the 2015-16 season. His tally of 22 wickets in Ranji Trophy 2015-16 added to a haul of 13 wickets in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, in which he also picked up his maiden List A five-for. He was retained by Royal Challengers Bangalore ahead of the IPL 2016 player auction.