What’s the issue with Axar Patel’s bowling? Where has that bite off the pitch disappeared?
Had the left-arm spinner got three wickets in the first Test at Nagpur he would have equalled Ravichandran Ashwin as the quickest to 50 wickets.
Instead, Axar is languishing at 48 scalps after three Tests on tracks that spinners dream about. In his series, he has bowled 39 overs for one wicket at an average of 103.
Compare this with his pre-series average of 47 wickets in eight Tests at 14.29.
The problem is technical. Somewhere along the line, he has lost his ability to pivot properly and is not able to get enough body behind the ball.
Instead of applying revs, he tends to push the ball through. Once you do that the ball is unlikely to grip the surface and turn.
In the mine-field that the pitch at the Holkar Stadium was, Axar was not even turning the ball past the right-hander’s outside edge. The Aussie tackled this tall, lanky bowler with a high-arm action, with ease.
Axar has to return to the basics and set right his action and release.
With the bat, however, Axar has been outstanding. He has added depth to the line-up and made 185 runs in the three Tests at an average of 92.50. He scored 84 in Nagpur and a match-winning 74 in Delhi.
Yet, the left-hander, with a penchant for sixes, was bafflingly sent at No. 8 and No.9 in Indore. He was left stranded, unbeaten on 12 and 15 in Indore.
When you are in form, you are not sent so low with only tailenders for company on such wickets where the tail is not expected to last long.
On his part, Axar has appeared composed and organised with the bat and, considering his form, should have come ahead of Srikar Bharat.
But then, much about how Axar has been handled in this series remains a mystery.
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