Indian spinner Axar Patel has clarified that he does not consider himself as a substitute of Ravindra Jadeja in the limited overs format and will “definitely” get selected if he is doing well.
Patel was preferred over seasoned pro-Jadeja in last 8 ODIs since August taking 10 wickets and more importantly has been economical in most of the games. During a press conference on Friday, Axar said, “I have got a place in the team and that’s why I am playing. I am of the view that if I do well in one game, I will automatically be picked in the next match.”
After losing the first ODI against New Zealand in Mumbai, where Tom Latham repeatedly played the sweep shot against Kuldeep Yadav, Axar was picked in the next game and the ploy worked for the ‘Men In Blue’. Describing the same, he said, “They played the sweep (shot) well in the first game. We knew that against spinners that was the strategy they will adopt and we formalised our strategy as per that by changing the angle by bowling over and round the wicket (in turns).”
Patel also revealed that Indian skipper Virat Kohli has always given him the freedom and confidence to bowl as he wants to. He said, “The captain backs you when you do well. I have been playing from the second ODI. He gives me the freedom to bowl what I want to. He leaves it to on us (him and Chahal) to decide on what to do. He says if that plan doesn’t succeed even then I will back you, which gives us the confidence to bowl with a free mind.”
India’s head coach Ravi Shastri was also a left-arm spinner but his advice to Patel has been more on the mental aspects of the game. He said, “He knows my bowling style is different from his. He always says “you know how to bowl and that’s why you are in the team and you continue to do that”. He says all that is mindgame, how to handle situations under pressure. He gives me small tips.”
Axar also acknowledged that the team management has given him a role of containing runs and he has done that with a fair amount of success. He said, “My role is the same. The wrist spinner (Yuzvendra Chahal in this case) gets turn on most wickets and his role is to attack more and try to take wickets in middle overs. Finger spinner’s aim is to contain from one end. If pressure is put from both ends, there are more chances of getting the wickets.”
While he plays Ranji Trophy for Gujarat and IPL for Kings XI Punjab, the Rajkot Stadium (Saurashtra’s home ground) has been like a second home for him. He concluded, “Obviously, it’s my home ground and I have some idea about how the wicket will behave from my experience playing IPL over here. There is not much turn on offer but it’s skiddy and there’s some bounce. I know how to bowl here.”