Team India left-arm spinner Axar Patel revealed that, contrary to the perception outside, he never considered himself a white-ball player. The 27-year-old asserted he always knew he could succeed in red-ball cricket at the top-level, and was waiting for his opportunity.
On Saturday, Axar claimed his fifth five-wicket haul in his fourth Test as India made a brilliant comeback in the Kanpur Test on Day 3. Axar’s 5 for 62 held the Kiwis to 296 and gave India a crucial 49-run first-innings lead.
Speaking at a press conference at the end of the day’s play, Axar disagreed with the view that he was primarily a white-ball cricketer, who has transformed into an all-format bowler. The left-arm spinner countered:
“I don’t know who said I am a white-ball player. Whenever I have played first-class cricket or for India A, I have performed well. I never thought that I was a white-ball player. It’s all about the mindset, whether you think of yourself as a white-ball or red-ball cricketer. For me, I was waiting for an opportunity to perform (in Test cricket). And when I got a chance during the England series, I did well. I would give credit to the team for placing faith in me and giving me a chance.”
Axar made a terrific Test debut in the home series against England earlier this year, claiming 27 wickets in three matches at an average of 10.59.
“I just enjoy myself whenever I am on the ground” – Axar Patel on competition among spinners
With Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the ranks, Axar is only expected to get a look-in when India play three spinners in Tests. Such opportunities will mostly come at home, which has been the case in his Axar’s short career.
The left-arm spinner though doesn’t look at things that way. For him, every Test he plays is an opportunity to enjoy himself and do something for the team. He elaborated:
“As you said (to reporter), this is my fifth five-for in seven innings. I just enjoy myself whenever I am on the ground. I am not thinking on the lines of there is (Ravichandran) Ashwin bhai and Jaddu bhai (Ravindra Jadeja). When I have the ball in hand, I gauge how the wicket is playing and plan my bowling accordingly. I don’t think about who is senior bowler or lead bowler and only try to do the job the team expects of me.”
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After Axar’s five-for restricted New Zealand to 296, India ended Day 3 on 14 for 1, with a handy lead of 63.