In recent times, Axar Patel has managed to increase his stock value as a batter. While he may have not got a big score in the two-match Test series, he managed to restrict the steady fall of wickets in India’s second innings in the second Test, in which they managed to chase down a target of 145 only after losing seven wickets.
Axar has played a few cameos in T20 cricket but on Thursday, he almost led India to an improbable win with a sensational knock of 31-ball 65. Chasing a target of 207, India had lost half their side for just 57 runs in the first 10 overs before Axar launched a stunning carnage in which he got to a 50 off just 20 balls. While he eventually got dismissed in the final over and India lost the match by 16 runs, the innings have cemented his status as a real option in place of Ravindra Jadeja.
Former Indian opener Wasim Jaffer has said that Axar could even give the injured Ravindra Jadeja a run for his money if he continues in this matter. During a chat with ESPNCricinfo, Wasim Jaffer said, “India are not missing Jadeja, who has been a phenomenal player in all three formats. But since India have found Axar Patel, we are not talking too much about Jadeja since he’s been away. Goes on to show how good Axar has come about as a cricketer. Fantastic.”
Jadeja has been missing competitive cricket since the Asia Cup. While his status as one of the world’s best fielders may not be something that Axar can compete against, Wasim Jaffer said that the latter arguably provides more options with the ball in T20Is, in addition to steadily improving with the bat.
Explaining the same, Wasim Jaffer said, “At the moment, yes (Axar is India’s No.1 spin all-rounder). India are lucky they have got such a like-for-like replacement (for Jadeja) in Axar Patel. He’s making the most of it in all formats. He can bowl in the powerplay, which I feel Jadeja does not like. Axar can do it. And If he bats like this, it’s debatable.”
He further added, “In the last game also, he’s contributed immensely with the bat. Today (Thursday), he again showed how much he has improved. Massive improvements in Axar as a batter. He’s got a pretty good technique. We don’t see him slogging too many balls. He’s pretty sure that when he connects, he’s going to go out of the park. He targets the spinners, stands still and hits it pretty straight as well.”
On Thursday, Axar almost turned the game on its head with Suryakumar Yadav at the other end. Usually the one who does the big-hitting, Suryakumar initially toom the backseat as Axar sent the Sri Lankan bowlers to all parts. The pair put up 91 runs off 40 balls for the sixth wicket after which Axar put up a 41-run stand with Shivam Mavi that came in just 22 balls.