Axar Patel impressed everyone with his batting in the recently concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy which India won 2-1. In a series where most of India’s batters struggled, Patel rose as an unlikely hero making handsome contributions with the bat even though picked primarily as a bowler. The first three matches of the series were played on pitches which were highly conducive for spin bowling. This made batting particularly difficult.
Axar, who is mostly known for his spin bowling, batted really well, so much so that he was the highest run scorer for India for a significant period in the series. With India suffering a batting debacle in the third test at Indore on another heavily turning track, many experts even questioned the team management’s decision of sending Axar way down the batting order given the fact he had done well with the bat. He ultimately garnered 264 runs in the series with an average of 88 in five innings, scoring three half centuries and was the third highest run getter in the series overall.
It turns out that former Australian captain Ricky Ponting had recognised Axar’s skills with the bat pretty early when he worked with him at Mumbai Indians as the coach of the franchise and now they have been reunited at the Delhi Capitals. Ponting also suggested a few technique changes which would help Axar improve his batting.
Speaking about his association with Axar, Ponting said, “I’ve known Axar for a long time and he was only a young boy in the squad at Mumbai when I first went there. I’ve known that there’s been a certain amount of batting skill there that really, apart from the last couple of years, he hadn’t really been showing at IPL level or even at international level.”
“There were a few little technique changes that we made with him. We just opened up his hips and his shoulders a little bit. So he was a bit more chest-on towards the right-arm fast bowlers”, Ponting added.
If Axar continues to excel with his bat, it would solve a lot of problems for India who have been struggling to find a good allrounder apart from Ravindra Jadeja who could make good contributions with the bat. It remains to be seen whether he will be picked for the final of the ICC World Test Championship in June.