Axar Patel has been the unsung hero for Delhi Capitals throughout IPL 2020 picking 8 wickets and scoring 66 runs in 12 matches. He hasn’t always been consistent but had broken into the top-10 ICC rankings in ODI cricket by being ranked 8th in 2016 when he lost his place in the Indian team.
Although his average is on the higher side of 30, he has conceded runs at an economy rate of 6.27 per over which is 6th among bowlers and 3rd among spinners playing in more than 10 matches. He had played 38 ODIs and 11 T20Is too along with 94 IPL matches.
Axar Patel Was Going Through A Difficult Phase As He Got Injured When He Broke Into Top 10 Rankings
Axar Patel had picked 79 IPL wickets and 45 ODI and 9 T20I wickets averaging around 30. He along with Ravichandran Ashwin who was traded in Delhi Capitals from Kings XI Punjab form the spin attack of the Delhi Capitals. Ravi Ashwin had taken 10 wickets from 12 matches and has 135 wickets from 151 matches averaging 26.74.
“It was a difficult phase. I got injured when I was in the top 10. There are going to be negative vibes when you are out of the team,” Axar told TOI from Dubai.
“I categorically told my friends and family that they should not talk about my career. Even this year, when I am doing well, they keep telling me about my chances and I ask them to refrain from such comments. I keep telling myself that I am 26 and it’s not that I can’t make a comeback.”
His injury coincided with the rise of wrist-spinners like Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal as potent weapons in white-ball cricket. Finger-spinners became the inferior breed in the limited-overs format in the public eye.
‘”Obviously, wrist spinners have more advantage. They can spin the ball more and the wicket-taking options are more,” Axar said before adding that there was no point in brooding about it.
“I just think like a spinner-can’t get into this wrist and finger spinner debate. If you consistently hit the right line and length, it’s difficult to get hit. As a finger spinner, I know what my strength is.”
Axar Patel, along with Ravichandran Ashwin, is doing their best to keep alive the roles of finger spinners. The emergence of Yuzvendra Chahal who averages 25.83 picking 91 wickets in 52 ODIs and averages 24.34 picking 55 wickets in 42 T20Is have certainly shortened some careers.
Kuldeep Yadav, another wrist spinner have a phenomenal average in T20Is-13.76 picking 39 wickets in 21 T20Is. He has picked up 102 wickets in 59 ODIs averaging 25.85. In 6 Tests he has picked 36 wickets averaging 24.12.
Axar Patel Trying More Variations By Bowling Slower
So he gave a peek into the ways of survival in T20 cricket by trying more variations and starting to bowl slower by using the crease better unlike thinking of line and length.
“I was trying more variations in the previous years. I used to think too much about the line to bowl to different batsmen. All I am doing now is varying the pace depending on the pitch and the batsman. I have started bowling a lot slower, use the crease better,” he said.
Ricky Ponting, head coach gave him responsibility by saying he was the main bowler in the team, but he was nervous having not played for five months due to lockdown.
“Ponting told me that I am his main bowler in the team. He said he trusted me more than I trust myself. That stayed with me. I was nervous since we didn’t play for five months. Whenever I doubt myself, I think about what a three-time World Cup winner like him thinks about me. “
So when you bring up the four consecutive sixes MS Dhoni hit him in 2017, he smiles and says: “I have gained experience to deal with those situations. I am past that phase.”
Axar Patel is a left-hand batsman and slow left-arm orthodox bowler having first signed up by the IPL franchise Mumbai Indians in 2013. Kings XI Punjab selected him in 2014, and finally, Delhi Capitals acquired his services in 2019.
He made his ODI debut in 2014 against Bangladesh. He was selected in India’s 15-man squad for 2015 Cricket World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand. He last played in 2018 in T20I and 2017 in ODI.