‘Slower’ Axar happy with match-winning effort

"The way the wicket was behaving I thought it was better to bowl a little slower," Axar Patel said after he helped Gujarat take a semi-final win over Tamil Nadu. "To go against my style and get these wickets with four stumpings and catches in the slips is especially satisfying."

Axar Patel celebrates with teammates after taking a wicket against Tamil Nadu.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Accuracy has always been one of Axar Patel’s better qualities. On Saturday, he added a bit of guile and some extra flight to gobble up six Tamil Nadu batsmen and move joint-top of the wicket-taker’s standings (along with Punjab's Siddharth Kaul) on 19 wickets.

“The way the wicket was behaving I thought it was better to bowl a little slower,” said Axar after the match. “To go against my style and get these wickets with four stumpings and catches in the slips is especially satisfying.”

“When the batsmen were new to the crease, seeing the pitch and the situation, I knew they wouldn’t go on the attack immediately. My plan was to make them defend as much as possible. Make them drive the ball, which could bring wickets on this pitch.”

But when asked if Dinesh Karthik’s idea to charge him in his very first over came as a surprise, Axar chuckled first and then said, “I thought he would see what the ball was doing, and what I was trying to do. [I] think he stepped out too early, and I got the rewards.” The 21-year, though, said this facet of his bowling was still a work in progress and is dependent on the conditions he encounters.

“I look at what the pitch is like and what the batsmen are trying to do. It’s not that I go and bowl slow on every turning pitch. But this pitch had slow turn. So if you bowl slow, you can cause more problems. Sometimes you get a square turner, and there I bowl fast so as to not give the batsmen time to recover.”