Former India batsman, VVS Laxman speaks about how the English batsmen can play, or try to play, Axar Patel, against whom they have looked all at sea in the last couple of Tests. Patel has picked 3 five-fors in the first two games of his Test career – he registered the best bowling figures in a day-night Test in Ahmedabad as the hosts took a 2-1 lead in the series with one game to go.
VVS Laxman speaks about playing spinners on tracks that offer assistance to them such as the ones in the last couple of Tests in Ahmedabad and Chennai. Laxman, who averaged 51 with the bat in India, guides the batters to play towards mid-off when a left-arm spinner like Axar Patel, who is quicker than most spinners and picks wickets with the straighter deliveries.
“For me, against the left-arm spinner, my strike rotation options would be play with the turn, towards mid-off. Against Axar Patel or Jack Leach, even if I was using the depth of the crease I would not cut.
“Against quicker spinners, play with a vertical bat. If you set yourself up to play towards mid-off, even if the ball turns a bit more, you can play to cover. But if you try to play towards cover, as you do on a good wicket, and the ball comes in with the arm, there is no time to alter your shot. Most importantly, on tough tracks, turners or seamers, you have to get ugly runs,” VVS Laxman told the Observer.
On these pitches you will not look good: VVS Laxman
The 46-year-old cricketer-turned-commentator reckons the England batters have to fight it out mentally as well after succumbing to totals of 112 and 81 in the third Test – the Three Lions haven’t gone past 200 in their last 5 Test innings. VVS Laxman asserts that even the most classy and elegant batsmen will not be able to bat in a free-flowing manner – but that is the challenge while playing on such pitches.
“As a batsman, you will not have rhythm or flow. Even if you’re batting on 50 you will feel that you’re not in and you may not middle the ball. This is the challenge for England. It will take a lot of mental toughness to score runs. At the highest level, you’re talented, experienced, you’re a good batsman, and you feel that you should always dominate.
“When you dominate you will look good and you will look comfortable. On these pitches, you will not look good. If you’re expecting to dominate, it will not happen and play into the hands of the bowler,” the former batsman further added.