Axar Patel has created a selling point for himself as a spinner who doesn’t turn a lot but flummoxes the batsman with the ones that don’t turn. The left-arm off-spinner, on Wednesday, in Ahmedabad picked more than half of his 6 English wickets with the arm ball as the visitors were bundled out inside two sessions for 112.
It was his second five-wicket haul in as many Tests after making his debut in the second Chennai Test, where he took his maiden five-for in the second innings.
Axar Patel mixes up his stock ball, the off-spinning ball turning away from the right-hander, with his arm-ball, that goes with the angle in towards the right-handed batsman – add it to his accuracy, speed, and height making him a lethal weapon on any surface in any conditions.
I Converted myself into a spinner only because of knee problems: Axar Patel
The 27-year-old reveals that he was a pacer initially in his career but had to change to spin bowling due to his knee problems. While Axar can turn the ball well with conventional off-spin, it’s the other one, the arm-ball, which the English batters have so far largely succumbed to.
The Gujarat-born all-rounder says that him starting out as a fast bowler is a significant reason for his specializing in the arm-ball, which is faster and has a flatter trajectory than his stock ball. Patel also credits Venkatapathy Raju, former India left-arm spinner, with whom he worked at the NCA to master the arm-ball.
“I have learned the arm ball myself. I worked with Venkat Sir (Venkatapathy Raju) at the NCA to master this delivery. I was a fast bowler in the early days of my career, which is why my bowling style is a bit quicker.
‘So, I think my experience of being a fast-bowler also helps me bowl arm balls. I converted myself into a spinner only because of knee problems, but what I used to do in my early days helps me bowl those arm balls quicker,” Axar Patel said in the press conference.
At stumps on Day 1, India has taken a dominant position in the match – the hosts trail by just 13 runs with 7 wickets in hand – but the game is not certainly decided as England will hope for their best bowling attack to bring them back in the game as Jack Leach, like the Indian spinners, was troubling the batsmen.