Nasser Hussain has praised Axar Patel for his brilliant, accurate bowling on the first day of the third India-England Test in Ahmedabad. The former England skipper also urged the visiting spinners to take lessons from the 27-year-old on how to ball accurately.
The left-arm spinner went on to pick six wickets on day 1, bundling out the English team for just 112 in the first innings.
Axar Patel was relentless with his line and length, with the visitors having no clue about which ball would turn or which would come straight with the arm.
In his column for the Daily Mail, Nasser Hussain wrote:
"He (Axar Patel) is incredibly accurate, which is something England's spinners can learn from. But he also bowls at a good pace, and he operates from stump to stump, so bowling the batsman and lbw are always in the equation."
Hussain pointed out that tackling Axar Patel in these conditions is more challenging than on tracks where there is prodigious turn from the start.
"The weird thing is, he's probably harder to face on a pitch like this, where some turn and some don't than he is on a pitch like the one England faced in the second Test in Chennai, where almost every ball turned big," added Hussain.
Axar Patel has had a tremendous start to his Test career, picking two five-wicket hauls in as many Tests.
The 27-year-old has been a perfect replacement for Ravindra Jadeja, who is currently out with a hand injury.
Nasser Hussain gives advice on how to play spin on the Ahmedabad pitch
Nasser Hussain also advised the English batsman to play for the straighter deliveries and protect themselves from LBW on a pitch like this.
"On a surface where the turn isn't consistent, I'd have been inclined to try to hold the line with my defensive shots. Protect yourself from lbw if you can, which is crucial in the DRS era. If the ball turns big, then just accept that you are going to be beaten on the outside."
Hussain pointed that four of Axar Patel's six wickets came from straight deliveries.
"Four of Patel's wickets — Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Jofra Archer and Ben Foakes — came from balls that didn't turn. That says a lot about the state of mind of the batsmen. England could also have been more proactive."
A loss here will also mean that the English team will be out of the running for a place in the ICC World Test Championship final.