India and Delhi Capitals (DC) left-arm spinner Axar Patel has said that he was apprehensive about how he would perform on returning to the IPL after his bout of COVID-19. However, the player admitted that his confidence grew after a good first outing on his return.
Axar Patel had tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of IPL 2021, which forced him to miss DC's first few matches in the T20 league. In an interview with India TV, the left-arm spinner opened up about his battle with COVID-19, saying in this regard:
“When I went to the hospital for treatment, I wasn’t feeling weak or anything like that. But I was nervous because I knew that to enter the bubble, I needed three negative tests. Many thoughts were going through my mind. I was in good form and then suddenly this COVID thing happened. I was also worried if COVID would affect my rhythm and how my body would respond after the battle with the virus.”
Axar Patel, though, made a successful comeback on his return to action, claiming 2 for 26 in a match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in Chennai. He also bowled the Super Over in that tied game, strangling Kane Williamson and David Warner, as DC won the one-over eliminator. The 27-year-old said in a lighter vein:
“In the first match itself, my COVID recovery was put to test, as I bowled the Super Over against Sunrisers Hyderabad. After that, I became more confident as my rhythm was intact.”
I knew I could either become a hero or a zero: Axar Patel
It is no secret that Axar Patel himself approached DC captain Rishabh Pant and expressed confidence that he could bowl the Super Over against SRH.
Admitting that he was aware of the risk factor, the bowler said that he was confident of doing a good job because there was assistance off the pitch. Axar Patel elaborated in this regard:
“Because the pitch was aiding spinners, I thought I or (Ravichandran) Ashwin would be bowling the Super Over. But then I saw the thinktank gathered around Avesh Khan. When I asked (Steve) Smith, he told me that Avesh will bowl the Super Over. I was confident that I could do better than Avesh under the conditions. I then went up to Rishabh (Pant) and said that I can bowl the Super Over without conceding many runs. Pant consulted coach Ricky (Ponting), and he gave the captain the freedom to take the final call.”
Axar Patel continued:
“I knew I could either become a hero or a zero. For a few moments, my heartbeat did increase. But I had the confidence and mental strength to pull me through."
Axar Patel played four matches in IPL 2021, claiming six wickets at a strike rate of 16 and an economy rate of seven before the tournament was suspended because of COVID-19 breaches in the bio-bubble.
With IPL 2021 expected to resume in the UAE in September, Axar Patel would hope to hit the ground running ahead of the all-important T20 World Cup later in the year.