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Home / Sports / Cricket / India vs Sri Lanka: Axar Patel spin boost ahead of day-night Test

India vs Sri Lanka: Axar Patel spin boost ahead of day-night Test

The match, set to begin on Saturday in Bangalore, will be played with the pink ball
Axar Patel
Axar Patel
File Photo

Our Bureau   |   Published 08.03.22, 01:37 AM

Axar Patel, the spinner who has been on a golden run since his Test debut a year ago, has regained fitness and is available for selection for the second Test against Sri Lanka.

Given that the match, set to begin on Saturday in Bangalore, will be a day-night game played with the pink ball, Axar could find a place in the XI straightaway.

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The left-arm orthodox slow bowler had staggering figures in India’s last pink-ball appearance, against England in Ahmedabad last year. Axar finished with 11 for 70, which was instrumental in England’s rout within two days.

That performance of Axar could well be on the minds of captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid when they get down to finalise the XI for the Bangalore Test.

With Axar back in the squad, left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav has been dropped. Kuldeep, though, wasn’t included in India’s final XI in Mohali as the team management had preferred off-spinner Jayant Yadav.

Jayant finished the Test wicketless, though he wasn’t needed to bowl much as Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin were good enough to take a bulk of the Sri Lankan wickets. If Axar too is included, the bowling attack would get extra teeth.

Axar has played all his five Test matches (three versus England and two versus New Zealand) so far at home. But more importantly, he has bowled well in almost every one of those Tests since making his debut against England in Chennai last year. He has 36 wickets at an average of 11.86 with five five-wicket hauls.

It remains to be seen what combination India prefer in what would be their fourth pink-ball Test. If India continue with three specialist spinners and two quicks, there’s a good possibility of Axar coming straight back into the XI as a replacement for Jayant.

Axar was unavailable for the first Test in Mohali as he was yet to recover completely from a shin injury and also had a bout of Covid-19 recently. The day India’s squads for the Sri Lanka T20Is and Tests were announced, the BCCI had said Axar would be “assessed later to ascertain his selection for the second Test”.



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