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Axar Patel stakes claim to permanent slot in XI

At Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain on Sunday, the 28-year-old produced an allround showing that led India to their ODI series victory versus the West Indies
Man of the Match Axar Patel during his unbeaten 64 against the West Indies in the second ODI in Port of Spain on Sunday
Man of the Match Axar Patel during his unbeaten 64 against the West Indies in the second ODI in Port of Spain on Sunday
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Sayak Banerjee   |   Calcutta   |   Published 26.07.22, 03:23 AM

Axar Patel has been a proven performer in Test cricket since his debut in February 2021. Not just with his left-arm spin, Axar has also contributed with the bat coming lower down the order.

But just as it has been in Tests, in limited overs cricket too, a berth in the playing XI came Axar’s way only when any of the India regulars are unavailable. At Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain on Sunday, the 28-year-old produced an allround showing that led India to their ODI series victory versus the West Indies. With figures of 1/40 in nine overs first up, Axar followed that up with an unbeaten 64 off 35 balls coming in to bat at No.7. He not only won India the game but also proved that as an all-rounder, he’s capable of being a match-winner in white-ball cricket as well. West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran’s decision to give those extra overs to the misfiring Akeal Hosein helped Axar in gaining confidence to go for the big shots.  The situation when Axar arrived at the crease wasn’t at all easy. In pursuit of 312, India needed 107 off 68 balls with five wickets in hand when Axar joined Deepak Hooda, who too had been struggling to get going.

“When I went out to bat, I aimed to score around 10-11 an over,” Axar, adjudged Man of the Match in what was only his second ODI appearance in almost five years, said. “We felt it could be done as we have IPL experience. We just wanted to be calm and keep the required rate under control.”

Clear mindset

One of the integral features of Axar’s knock on Sunday was his temperament, which didn’t waver even once. His clarity of mind was also impressive.  “He was quite clear about his approach in this game and yeah, he showed excellent temperament too,” former national selector Devang Gandhi pointed out. 

“He has been in and out of the side. Whenever he has got the opportunities, he tried to make the best use of them. And at present, he has certainly grown in terms of maturity.” According to Gujarat coach Mukund Parmar, Axar has always taken his batting quite seriously. “I’ve seen him making important contributions with the bat since his U-19 days,” Parmar stated, adding: “But now that he has proved what he’s capable of, he needs to be more consistent and back it up with more such knocks.”

Healthy competition

Obviously, when Ravindra Jadeja is fit and available, he would be preferred over Axar. But with his steady progress, Axar will surely keep Jadeja on his toes.  “At present, Axar is indeed a like-for-like replacement for Jadeja. Although no player takes his position in the team for granted, he will be aware that his substitute has been doing so well,” Devang emphasised. “Overall, it bodes well for the team if there’s healthy competition between the players, because their focus then is on further improvement.”



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