Axar: 2021 has been my dream year

Axar Patel has been effective both as a spinner and a lower-order batter. On Sunday, he followed up his first innings' fifty with a quickfire 41 off 26 balls against New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium.

Axar Patel

India bowler Axar Patel celebrates a dismissal.   -  PTI

It has been an incredible year for Axar Patel. The spinner, since making his Test debut in the home series against England in February, has featured in five Tests, picking 36 wickets. 

Axar has been effective as a lower-order batter as well and slammed a half-century in the first innings of the second Test against New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium. He followed it up with a quickfire 41 off 26 balls in the second innings. 

The 27-year-old is happy to play his part as an all-rounder.

 

“This has been my dream year. The way I bowled in the England series and now how the New Zealand series has panned out, in between there was IPL...” Axar said after the end of the third day’s play.

Axar has often been compared to Jadeja. “Yes, we have similarities and bowling wicket-to-wicket is my strength. Whenever I speak to Jaddu bhai, it’s more about the mental aspect of the game that we focus on. We discuss the options against batters who are trying to charge us down the track, discuss field placements, and while batting we discuss which bowlers to exploit,” he said. 

Axar revealed batting coach Vikram Rathour and the team management have faith in his batting abilities. “They have always told me that ‘You can do it.' Earlier, when I got chances, I could not convert my starts, but this time, when I got chances, I was able to convert,” he said.

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“My batting is benefiting my team and if you see myself, Jaddu and Ash bhai play as all-rounders. It releases a bit of pressure on our batters.” 

On a surface that aided the spinners, India bundled out New Zealand for 62 in the first innings but did not enforce a follow-on and continued batting even after securing a 400-run lead. Explaining the reason behind the decision, Patel said: “I won’t call it a delay as there is so much time left in the game. The idea was to bat as long as possible as you don’t get such a situation every day. We were trying to explore variation options,” he said.

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India will take the field on the fourth day, aiming to seal the deal as quickly as possible. But Axar indicated that the track is slowing down. “Two days back, due to the underlying moisture, the ball had a fast turn and as time is progressing, the track is slowing down a bit. Today, even when there was turn, the batter had enough time to go on the back-foot and negotiate it.”  

“Only if the batter is making mistakes, then it's a bit difficult for him. We have been in umpteenth situations like these, and we know what needs to be done in these circumstances,” he said. 

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