T20 World Cup 2024: Keeping it simple does the trick for Axar

Axar as it is undercuts the ball. Now add a slippery pitch to the picture, and the left-arm spinner was naturally going to be lethal.
Last Updated : 28 June 2024, 21:22 IST

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Axar Patel obviously laughed it off when asked how he managed to pick up a wicket off the first ball in three of his four overs of the day against England on Thursday, but did spend considerable time trying to explain why that could be. 

Axar finished with figures of 3 for 23 from his quota on a low pitch at the Providence stadium in Guyana. In a sense, this was expected because Axar as it is undercuts the ball. Now add a slippery pitch to the picture, and the left-arm spinner was naturally going to be lethal. 

He was, and on the back of his man-of-the-match performance, India posted a 68-run win over England to march into the final, a victory which was possibly their most complete to date in this T20 World Cup. 

“I didn't plan to get wickets on the first ball (laughs),” he said in the post-match press conference. “I had a mindset that I have to put the ball in a good spot. Obviously, when you play knockouts, your mindset is that you should start and finish the first and last ball well. That was in my mind. 

“Obviously, every time I did well with the wicket, that was a plus point. I think it was difficult to hit big shots and it was difficult to hit sweep and reverse sweep because the ball was staying low, you can't connect it so easily. Batters doubt because if they go for the sweep and the ball stays low, they’ll get struck on the pads. So, we bowled stump to stump as much as we could and you saw what happened.”

Axar also revealed that Rohit Sharma gave the bowlers input on the characteristics of the pitch so they knew what they were up against by the time it was their time to defend 172. 

“When we spoke to Rohit (Sharma), he said it was very difficult to hit a big shot because the odd ball is spinning and the odd ball is also staying down, skidding on. So that was our thought that 150-160 is a very good score, we can defend it,” he said. 

“So, when we made 170, we knew that we made 10-15 runs more and the plan was the same. Obviously, it is difficult in the powerplay, but when you know that you are getting help from the wicket, then at that time, without thinking much, without doing any extra work, I thought that the more I keep it simple, the easier it will be for me.”

Since arriving in the Caribbean, the Indians added Kuldeep Yadav to the two spinners they already played in Axar and Ravindra Jadeja. Since then, they have been on a role. Even on Thursday, Kuldeep complemented Axar’s three-fer with figures of 4-0-19-3, while Jadeja gave away a mere 16 runs in three overs. 

“I keep talking to Jadeja and Kuldeep that when I bowl in the first over, this is what is happening in the wicket, this is not happening,” he said. “I think the fastball is stopping a little bit. So, when Jaddu came on, I told him that our line, length is stopping a little bit here, so it is easy for them to cut. 'You can go a little higher and vary in pace. It is not that easy on this wicket for the batter'.”

Published 28 June 2024, 21:22 IST

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