The Indian team management has plenty of spin-bowling all-rounders to choose from, head coach Rahul Dravid said after India’s loss to Sri Lanka on Thursday.
Dravid indicated Ravindra Jadeja could soon be in the mix as well.
“I think in our spin bowling all-rounder’s slot our stocks are pretty good at the moment. Shahbaz (Ahmed) was also part of the squad and considering that Washington (Sundar) is there and then Jadeja as well so we are happy with that,” he said.
With Axar Patel playing his role to perfection on Thursday, taking two wickets in an economical spell and also scoring a swashbuckling 65 off just 31 deliveries, the coach said it had given him quite a few options.
“I think in T20 cricket, whenever he has got the opportunity, he’s done really well so, that’s really a good sign for us, people like him, people like Washi not getting a game, he’s batting really well and obviously Jadeja coming back (soon) as well gives us nice little (options) in that spin-bowling all-rounder area.”
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With Axar trading more in sixes than fours, Dravid also commended the all-rounder’s batting. Axar smashed six maximums and three boundaries and scored at a strike rate of nearly 210 to keep India in the game till the time he was at the crease. “He is certainly doing a really good job and his batting is coming on (in) leaps and bounds. We always knew his quality with the ball and it was just about developing his batting. He is working really hard on it. Honestly, we had identified him more than a year (ago).
“It’s (batting) an area of his game that we have identified, we know that it’s important for us to have that and whatever opportunities Axar has got, especially with Jadeja missing quite a lot of cricket, he hasn’t let us down in Test cricket, ODIs, whether it’s been here,” added Dravid.
Sri Lanka, after setting a target of 207 for India, restricted Hardik Pandya’s side to 190 to take the series to the decider at Rajkot on Saturday. Among fast-bowling all-rounders, Shivam Mavi had proved to be an ideal foil for skipper Hardik Pandya, Dravid said, and it had “brought a smile” on his face.
The young pace bowler scored a quick-fire 26 at the back-end, giving the coach hope that he could be relied upon as a pinch-hitter in the closing overs. “In the fast-bowling all-rounder area we rely heavily on Hardik and we are looking around for other people to step up and may be do the job for us. And, it was nice to see Mavi bat today (Thursday) so that’s like brings a smile on your face. I mean you can see one of you fast bowlers being able to bat like that.”