‘Eat, sleep, take a five-wicket-haul, repeat’ It’s fair to say that this was India’s latest Test debutant Axar Patel’s routine in the recently-concluded Test series against England.
The left-arm orthodox, who made his debut during the second Test at the M.A Chidambaram Stadium in Ahmedabad, bowled like a dream throughout the course of the last three Tests, and not for once did India and its fans felt that Ravindra Jadeja wasn’t a part of the team.
The English batsmen kept playing for the turn and he kept nailing them either leg-before-wicket or bowled via his arm ball. As a result, Axar claimed as many as 27 wickets in just three Tests- the joint-most by an Indian in his debut series alongside Dilip Doshi, who claimed the same number of scalps in six Tests.
Axar claimed his maiden five-wicket-haul in the second innings of the first Test and then backed it up with a record-breaking 11-wicket-haul in the pink-ball Test, becoming the first bowler to do so in a day-night affair.
He narrowly missed out on a five-wicket-haul in the first innings of the fourth Test but made up for it with his 4th five-for in just six innings in the last innings of the series.
When asked about the secret behind his success in the post-match interview after India registered a 3-1 series-clinching win in Ahmedabad, Axar Patel said that the confidence he had gained after his performance in his debut game in Chennai helped him to continue the good work in rest of the series.
“I think confidence helped me. I got wickets in the first game and kept on carrying the confidence,” said Axar Patel.
The wicket in the final Test wasn’t as helpful for spinners as it was during the day-night affair at the same venue. When asked about the changes he made to his bowling for the conditions on offer in the series-final, Axar Patel said that unlike the pink-ball match where he focussed on only bowling the faster ones, here he tried to vary his pace, and the result is for everyone to see.
“I only bowled faster ones more often in the previous games but here we needed to vary our pace,” he added.