Seamer-friendly conditions and two seamers accounting for 22 wickets is a rarity in domestic cricket. When Haryana and Rajasthan were fighting a battle of nerves in a Ranji Trophy semi-final at Lahli, Rohtak, this week, on a wicket that tested the batting skills of one and all, it made for some absorbing cricket, not always gripping, but one that kept almost every player engaged right through.The centre of attraction was two young pacers – Haryana’s Harshal Patel and Rajasthan’s Rituraj Singh – both bowling with discipline and consistency to reap the rewards. The two have clearly made an impression in their first year of first-class cricket.Patel, with seven Ranji matches under his belt, backed his eight for 40 against Karnataka in the quarter-final with another excellent performance, taking eight for 34 in the first innings against defending champions Rajasthan to finish with his maiden 10-wicket haul.Rituraj, playing only his third Ranji Trophy match, scalped 12 for 82, including 5/ 37 in the second innings that saw Rajasthan defend 184 runs and make it to the final inside two and a half days.At the start of the season, Patel found the going tough and got only nine wickets in his first five Ranji matches. But he learnt his lessons quickly, and when bigger occasions came, the 21-year-old stood counted. In the quarterfinal, against Karnataka’s strong batting line-up, Patel cleared the road for Haryana’s upset victory.”I will rate my bowling against Karnataka above my performance in the semi- final. It was a special one because the conditions were more difficult for a bowler. The Bangalore wicket was helpful only in the morning when it was fresh and after that it turned out to be a good batting wicket. The wicket at Lahli was sporting. There were runs for the batsmen, but at the same time the bowlers had a chance if they pitched it in the right areas,” Patel told Mail Today.advertisement”I did the basics right, bowled the desired line and length and maintained the intensity,” said Ahmedabad-based Patel, who headed to Haryana as he was not getting a berth in Gujarat team.Patel is well aware of his strengths and the aspects of his bowling that need to be polished. “I can move the ball both ways and that is my biggest weapon. I would like to be a little quicker.” For that he is making some adjustment in his action and working with well-known Essex coach and former fast bowler Ian Pont, who has a contract with Haryana.”You get a lot of wickets in junior cricket but it is a different ballgame when you play at the senior circuit. You have to be consistent and patient for a long time. Nothing comes easy. This is something I learnt after the first five Ranji matches,” said Patel, who started as a batting all- rounder before choosing to concentrate more on his bowling.Patel had to make a tough choice very early in his career and he has been proved right. His family had to shift to USA when he was 16. But Patel decided to stay back and pursue his cricket. “Initially, living alone was difficult. I was very young and had to take care of everything. Now I have adapted to the change. I visit my parents in summers. They backed my decision and are happy with my success.”Rituraj came as a replacement for medium-pacer Deepak Chahar, who made headlines in the previous season. Chahar was down with jaundice and that paved the way for Rituraj, trained by Anil Sinha, to grab a spot.He immediately turned the fortunes of Rajasthan around with 22 wickets in three matches that included three five-wicket hauls.Swing is Rituraj’s strong point even as he aims to improve his pace. His ability to bowl on and outside off left the Haryana batsmen laden-footed. “I believe in line and length and it helps my style. It was important that I did not get carried away by the helpful conditions at Lahli. It was a fine learning process for me.”I know this is just the first step for me. I have a long way to go. I have to improve and keep doing the good work,” says Rituraj, echoing the thoughts of Patel as well.