Axar Patel has made it clear that the off-spinner doesn’t like to be bracketed as a white-ball specialist after his 5/62 on the third day put India in the driver’s seat against New Zealand in the ongoing first Test in Kanpur on Saturday.
Chasing India’s first innings total of 345, Axar ran through the New Zealand batting line-up to pick his fifth fifer in seven innings. New Zealand were all out for 296 giving India a crucial 49-run lead. India finished the day at 14/1.
“Whenever I have played first-class or India A, I have done well. I have never seen myself as a white-ball specialist,” Patel said after the match, who now has 32 wickets in three and a half matches in the red-ball format. For the left-hander, it’s all about playing in the mind.
“It’s all in mindset as to what you perceive yourself as – a white-ball specialist or red ball specialist. I always had the belief that whenever I get a chance I will do well. Obviously, I give credit to team members for having faith in me and I have been able to stand up to their expectations,” said Axar.
Axar admitted that he made few changes while bowling on Saturday compared to his first spell on Day 2. According to him, the key was to play with varied angles, mixing the pace of his deliveries.
“I used the crease much more today and I didn’t use the crease a lot in the 10 overs that I bowled yesterday. I was using the crease by going wide and coming near the stumps, creating various angles, and that helped me get a lot of purchase,” added Axar.
Axar, who made his Test debut against England in February this year, is also happy they way stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane and head coach Rahul Dravid showed confidence on the bowlers even when the team did not get any wicket for 67 overs.
“Obviously, if you don’t get a wicket for 67 overs, it’s tough but the dressing room was calm as Ajju bhai and Rahul sir kept a calm environment. They said we have to keep patience because if we get one, we will get a few more and then we can make inroads,” he said. “We got the reward for our persistence in the first and second session.”
With senior pros Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja also in the side, does Axar feel any pressure? The answer was negative. “Whenever I go to the ground, I try and enjoy and not think about whether Ashwin bhai and Jaddu are there,” he made his thought-process clear.
“When I have ball in my hand, I just try and see to it that I am enjoying my bowling, trying to read the wicket and understand what’s happening, how it’s behaving and plan accordingly,” he elaborated.