In the second and final Test of the series on Sunday, the Indian batting lineup failed to tackle the spin-bowling attack of Bangladesh. Most of the Indian batters struggled mightily in the chase of a meager 145 runs, losing as many as seven wickets, despite the presence of veterans like KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, and Cheteshwar Pujara.
On Day 3, the Indian management was forced to send Axar Patel at No. 4, ahead of Kohli, Rishabh Pant, and even Shreyas Iyer after the wickets tumbled. While many experts questioned the move from the Indian team management, especially Sunil Gavaskar and Ajay Jadeja, a few guessed the move came in the hopes that the southpaw will be helping to tackle Bangladesh’s rampaging spinners.
But after India won the game by three wickets, Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara clarified the reason behind promoting Axar to bat at No. 4.
When Jadeja asked Pujara about the move during a chat after the game on Sony Sports Network, the veteran said: “It was a very good move because, among their three strike bowlers, two were left-arm spinners. Axar is a left-hander, so he was sent to tackle them and to have a batter who can bat sensibly in the initial period against the Kookaburra ball.”
He further added, “That was an important phase of the game where we didn’t want to lose too many wickets in the evening, and he could have batted cautiously. So I was not surprised. When you are chasing a 145-run total, every run is important, and the way he batted, his innings was very valuable for us.”
Pujara on India sending Axar ahead of Kohli pic.twitter.com/xAFrbNirf3
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Axar did really well with the bat under pressure. He lost a couple of partners during his time on the field on Day 3, as Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli failed to tackle the Bangladeshi spinners. But he kept his place intact on the field till the end of the day’s play and showcased some fine endurance. He continued India’s innings on the fourth day and scored a 69-ball 34 before walking off the field.