Axar Patel the key to Kings XI Punjab revival

After a sedate start to the tournament, Axar Patel has slowly come into form and made valuable contributions that has helped Kings XI Punjab get back to winning ways.

Axar Patel has contributed with both bat and ball for Kings XI Punjab.   -  PTI

After a sedate start to the tournament, Axar Patel has slowly come into form and made valuable contributions that has helped Kings XI Punjab get back to winning ways.

On Friday, Patel produced an all-round display to set up a 19-run victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore. In the last four matches, the 23-year old has managed to take seven wickets and played crucial knocks with the bat in two of the wins - against Gujarat Lions and RCB.

Ever since breaking onto the big stage with his breakthrough performance in the 2014 IPL, the all-rounder from Gujarat has been a key player for Punjab.

On Friday, his knock and the 19 runs he plundered off Shane Watson in the final offer made the difference. Walking in at 78 for five, Patel played sensibly, not trying to slog it across the ground like his teammates were doing.

He lofted Chahal over long on with the turn before a deft late cut through third man off the leg-spinner to get going. In the final over he picked the slower one to clear the long on boundary before finding two more boundaries.

Speaking after the match Patel said, “A pull or a cut square of the wicket was not on. The more you played with a straight bat, it was better. Dealing with length balls was difficult. It wasn't coming on to the bat. It was a two-paced [wicket].”

Even as he was denied strike - facing only four balls in the three overs before the 20th over - Patel kept his composure as he went after Watson, making an unbeaten 17-ball 38.

“The way wickets were falling and there being no batsmen after me, we planned to get to 150. But when I didn't get the strike, we thought maybe we can reach 130. It was good that we scored nearly 20 in the final over.”

After just six wickets in the first six games, Patel has found form with the ball with some crucial wickets in the last four matches. He is the second highest wicket-taker for Punjab with 13 wickets, one behind Sharma and has the second best economy rate of 7.33 for his side.

In the match against Lions, he picked up Suresh Raina and Dwayne Smith before chipping in with two more wickets against Delhi Daredevils. On Friday, he scalped three as he removed Watson, and then came back to dismiss Pawan Negi, who was keeping RCB in the hunt and Samuel Badree off consecutive deliveries.

Patel last played for India against New Zealand in the ODI at Vizag and missed out against England in the limited overs format with a thumb injury. A few more good performances here could not only help his side get into the playoffs but also make him a strong contender for a berth in the Champions Trophy squad.

  Dugout videos