Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar recently lauded Axar Patel for sticking to his strength regardless of the nature of the pitch. The left-arm spinner took 6 for 38 to bundle out England for a meagre 112 on the opening day of the pink-ball Test on Wednesday (February 24).
While the pitch at the new Motera wasn’t a dustbowl like the one in Chennai, the odd ball was spinning a fair bit. However, Axar Patel – who isn’t a big turner of the ball – kept bowling in the same channel and relied entirely on natural variation. Sunil Gavaskar credited that very strategy for creating doubts in the English batters’ minds.
“He [Axar Patel] recognised the fact that the odd ball is turning which is creating a doubt in the batsman’s mind. So, he just kept bowling the same line and length. That’s the best part of his bowling. He knows that this is his strength and he bowls to his strength,” Sunil Gavaskar said on Star Sports.
Axar Patel registered his second successive five-wicket haul after scalping 5 for 60 on Test debut in the second innings of the second Test in Chennai last week. India went into stumps on Day 1 on 99 for 3, trailing by just 13 runs.
“Axar Patel will add a little more variety with experience” – Sunil Gavaskar
Axar Patel, who came into the Test setup as a replacement for the injured Ravindra Jadeja, has a reputation for being unerringly accuracate. Shedding light on the fact that many bowlers tend to experiment upon being promoted to the highest level, Gavaskar sounded impressed with Axar Patel sticking to the basics.
“Sometimes bowlers try to change the way they have bowled in first-class cricket, which has got them to the Test level. They try and adapt the thing that how they need to bowl at the Test level. And they eventually lose what has brought them to the Test team. Axar hasn’t tried to do that,” Sunil Gavaskar reasoned.
The legendary batsman, who incidentally scored his 10,000th Test run in Ahmedabad, further urged Axar Patel to back his strengths. He opined that Axar will add variations to his kitty with time.
“With experience, with more Test matches that he plays, he will obviously add a little more variety. Right now, in his second Test, his strength is his accuracy and that is what he needs to keep doing,” Gavaskar, who scored 10,122 runs at an average of 51.12 in 125 Tests, concluded.
Axar Patel will hope to continue his rich vein of form in the second innings of the day-night Test and also in the final match of the series. India need to win by at least a one-Test margin to seal a date with New Zealand in the World Test Championship final on June 18.