Former Indian opener-turned commentator Sunil Gavaskar feels that left-arm orthodox Axar Patel grabbed his opportunities with both hands in the recent Test series against England and that it will be difficult for champion all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja to break into the team as and when he gets fit.
Team India was without the services of all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja in the four-match Test series against England. Jadeja had been ruled out due to the blow that he had copped on his thumb courtesy of a vicious blow by Mitchell Starc during the third Test between India and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
With Jadeja having undergone surgery, it was pretty clear that India would be without him in the home Test rubber against England. Jadeja is at the height of his powers as an all-rounder in the last few years and his bowling in home conditions is as good as Ravichandran Ashwin.
The absence of Jadeja was severely felt in the first Test in Chennai when India played Shahbaz Nadeem ahead of Axar Patel, who had been ruled out due to injury on the morning of the Test.
Axar was eventually drafted in the playing 11 for the second Test following a poor performance by Nadeem, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Axar Patel proved to be the biggest thorn in English flesh as he walked past the visitors batting line-up on a consistent basis during the course of the next six innings.
The English batsmen kept playing for the turn and Axar kept bamboozling them with his arm ball. The left-arm spinner went on to take as many as 27 wickets- the joint-most by an Indian bowler in his debut series alongside Dilip Doshi- in just three Tests which includes a scarcely believable four five-wicket-hauls. He also made a handy contribution with the bat in the last Test courtesy of a brilliant 43.
”Axar Patel has grabbed his opportunities. He has taken 27 wickets, he has also shown that he can bat well and he is also a very good fielder, probably not as good as Ravindra Jadeja,” Sunil Gavaskar said on Star Sports.
“It’s not going to be easy for Ravindra Jadeja to break into the team because if you go by form, with him not having played much cricket, the Indian think tank might want to retain Axar Patel. It’s always good to have two players fighting for one place because that means that complacency will not set in,” Gavaskar said.