Greatest cricketing day of my life: Ajaz Patel

Greatest cricketing day of my life and perhaps will always be, says Ajaz Patel

The Mumbai-born 34-year-old left-arm spinner was elated for his exceptional show as he became only the third bowler in Test history to return a 10-for in an innings

New Zealand spinner Ajaz Patel. Credit: AFP File Photo

You can't really improve upon perfection and New Zealand spinner Ajaz Patel knows that his phenomenal effort of taking 10 wickets in a Test innings will remain his most precious performance on his greatest cricketing day.

The Mumbai-born 34-year-old left-arm spinner was elated for his exceptional show as he became only the third bowler in Test history to return a 10-for in an innings after Jim Laker (1956) and Anil Kumble (1999) and that too in the city of his birth.

"Personally, it's one of the greatest cricketing days of my life and it probably will always be," Patel said at the end of the day .

"From the team's perspective, we put ourselves in a tough position. We have to front up tomorrow and work as hard as possible and see if we can turn the game around or eke out something special," Patel admitted.

Also Read | Pretty special in career: Ajaz Patel on 10-wicket haul

It will still take some time to sink in and before he could savour it, the Indian bowlers devoured on their batters.

So has it sunk in yet? "Not really," he said with a smile.

"After I came off the field, things happened too quickly. These things don't sink in until later. It’s brilliant for me, my family and my wife. You spend a lot of time away from home as a cricketer and I'm just grateful to God for this occasion. It's a very special for me."

He felt humbled by Kumble's tweet and was grinning from ear to ear. "Yeah, I remember his ten-for. I have seen highlights of that game plenty of times. Very illustrious group to be a part of. Great to see his message and his kind words. Humbled and fortunate to be in that company."

Also Read | Cricketing fraternity hails Ajaz Patel's 10-wicket-an-innings feat

So did at any point 10-for cross his mind during the early stages of the Indian innings?

"No, not quite. I knew there was work to do. I wanted to get up on the honours board. I told myself yesterday that my name was going to be on the honours board but for it to happen was special."

There was an entire gamut of emotions that he felt when Rachin Ravindra went underneath the aerial ball at mid-on.

"It was a nervous time. We backed Rachin to take it but the ball wobbled and we were all nervous.

"I told Neil Wagner, during drinks, that I was more nervous now than I was all game. We don't have these moments as cricketers often. It was special that it came in Mumbai," he sounded emotional, as his extended family still stays in Mumbai suburb Jogeshwari.

For Patel, it's the "beauty of Test cricket" that on a day he got the best figures for a New Zealand bowler, his team were shot out for just 62.

"Things can flip and one session can change the game. But we’re still in the game and the second innings is still left.

Also Read | New Zealand's Ajaz Patel becomes third bowler to pick all 10 wickets in an innings

"It's about looking forward to tomorrow and doing the right things again. I have a lot of messages to respond to but I'll leave it for the quarantine on my way back home," he said.

He was all praise for Mayank Agarwal and his splendid innings of 150 on a track where there is both turn and bounce.

"Mayank played very well. That was a very special innings. He got half the runs in the innings. Getting 150 on that wicket was not easy. My challenge was to keep it tight, I have to make sure I bowl the right balls consistently. He played a special knock. It was cool for me to finally get him."

Unlike Javagal Srinath who bowled wides to facilitate Kumble's 10th wicket (Wasim Akram), Patel said that he had no such discussions with any of his teammates and would have been happy with even nine wickets.

"No talk of that sort. It doesn't matter who gets the wickets. I would have been happy had I got nine and someone else took one. It was really about making sure we did our job."

He doesn't play white ball games for New Zealand but this 10-for will certainly make him popular with the Indian audience considering that his team is always held in high esteem.

Can this translate into an IPL contract? Patel doesn't want to look that far.

"Oh, if I could get a contract, I would be lucky. But I haven’t looked that far ahead. Playing for New Zealand is all I can think of doing. Whatever happens later on, we can worry about it later," he concluded.

Check out DH's latest videos: