Aakash Chopra.
Aakash Chopra. Image Credit: X

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The former India opener Aakash Chopra has lauded the unsung hero Axar Patel behind India’s six-run victory over Pakistan at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, in New York. The left-arm spinner’s two overs, where he picked up the wicket of Usman Khan and bowled three dots consecutively to Imad Wasim changed the course of the game.

Under overcast conditions, when India were struggling to bat first losing two early wickets, the management decided to promote Axar Patel at the number four position. From the start, the left-handed looked to take on the Pakistan bowlers, as he scored 20 runs in 18 balls to put up an important 39-run stand for the third wicket to save India.

Even with the ball in hand, it was essential to not give away runs, as he ended with figures of 1/11 in his two overs.

‘I think he was absolutely sensational.’ – Aakash Chopra

The former India batter Aakash Chopra has praised the all-round performance of Axar, as he feels that coming at a vital position, he not only helped India in recovery, but also made more runs than what Suryakumar Yadav, Shivam Dube, and Hardik Pandya could make collectively.

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‘I will once again want to talk about Axar Patel’s performance because he was an unsung hero. He came to bat at No. 4 and scored 20 runs.’ Aakash Chopra noted in a video that he shared on his YouTube channel. ‘If you add Hardik Pandya, Shivam Dube, Suryakumar Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja’s runs, and add (Virat) Kohli’s also to that, the five together scored 21, and Axar Patel made 20 at a number which is not his number.’

The right-hander also extended to say that he broke the second wicket partnership which opened the channel for the Indian team, and even in a negative matchup against Imad Wasim, the Gujrat-born held his nerve.

‘After that, picked up Usman Khan’s wicket. A wicket was not falling. You had tried all bowlers and he was the last bowler to be tried.’ The renowned commentator Aakash Chopra expressed. ‘Everyone remembers (Jasprit) Bumrah’s dismissal of (Mohammad) Rizwan and then Hardik Pandya, but the 16th over, it was a negative match-up, Imad Wasim was standing, and he bowled a two-run over. I think he was absolutely sensational.’

After that wicket of Usman, Pakistan lost six wickets for only 45 runs to fall short by six runs of the 119 runs made by India.

‘Hardik Pandya has also turned that around.’- Aakash Chopra

The Delhi-born has also been impressed with the that India’s premier fast bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya has performed in his T20 World Cup 2024 so far. Since taking the captaincy of Mumbai Indians in the IPL, replacing Rohit Sharma, Pandya has gone through tough times with boos in the middle.

But the commentator observes that Hardik was brilliant with the ball against Pakistan and that has helped him in getting the praise from those who abused him during the 20-over league.

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‘Hardik Pandya – people booed him so much, and how life changes. I saw the entire ground shouting ‘Hardik, Hardik’ and a lot of love for him. Cricket is a great leveler.’ Aakash Chopra reflected on Hardik. ‘If you perform well, people who were abusing you will also praise you. They will pray for your success.’

The Baroda-born ended with figures of 2/24 in his four overs, including the wicket of Fakhar Zaman, which was so crucial at that stage of the game in getting them back in the contest.

‘I learned one thing that we Indians are extremely lucky. We have 140 crore people and whoever follows cricket, prays for you, even though they don’t know you.’ Aakash Chopra concluded in the same video. ‘This is the biggest blessing. So, Hardik Pandya has also turned that around. He has been outstanding.’

India will face the United States of America next on June 12, at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York.