Axar firmly focussed on New Zealand series

There is stiff competition for berths for spinners in this Indian team, with even men as successful as Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindran Jadeja sitting out.

Axar Patel at his home ground in Nadiad.   -  P.K. Ajith Kumar

Axar Patel’s home is just five minutes’ drive from the G.S. Patel Stadium here. So it wasn’t much of a surprise to find the 23-year-old spinning all-rounder visiting his Gujarat team-mates during the Ranji Trophy match against Kerala.

“This is the ground where I grew up playing cricket,” Axar told Sportstar. “And I like to come here as often I can. It was nice meeting my team-mates.”

There was a big buzz when he was at the stadium. He is the biggest cricketer this small city has ever produced. He obliged autograph hunters and posed for photographers with a smile on his face.

The left-arm spinner broke into a broader smile when he spoke about his most recent match for India. He had taken three for 38 against Australia in the fifth one-dayer in Nagpur.

“I was quite happy with the way I bowled in that match,” he said. “I had got hit for a few runs in the previous match, so it really felt nice to come back into form. And I particularly enjoyed the wicket of Travis Head; he was trying to hit me and was bowled.”

Before the Australian series he had a good outing in Sri Lanka. “My best ODI figures – three for 34 — came in the first match of the series at Dambulla and that was an important match for me,” he said. “I was coming back to the side some eight months after my injury.”

He was playing for India A in South Africa when he was asked to fly to Lanka following the suspension of Ravindra Jadeja ahead of the Pallekele Test. “It came as a pleasant surprise when our coach Rahul Dravid told me that I had a more important assignment ahead,” he said. “I have always enjoyed working with him.”

Dravid was also there when Axar performed brilliantly against South Africa ‘A’ in the twin ‘Tests’ in Krishnagiri, Wayanad two years ago. He had returned with remarkable figures of 6-6-0-4 in the second innings of the second ‘Test’ to power the host to victory. He had taken five wickets in the first innings and was nearly unplayable in the second innings.

“Well, I will love Wayanad always because of that spell,” he said. “It remains my favourite spell in international cricket.”

His focus, at the moment, is of course the New Zealand series, starting with the ODI match in Mumbai on October 22. There is stiff competition for berths for spinners in this Indian team, with even men as successful as Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindran Jadeja sitting out.

“Yes, there is some competition,” said the man who has 44 wickets from 36 ODIs. “But that is good for Indian cricket.”

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.

  Dugout videos