With two wins from two matches, Team India have gotten off to a resounding start at the T20 World Cup. The Men in Blue are currently at the top of the points table in their group. Marred by injuries ahead of the marquee tournament, Team India had roped in Axar Patel in place of all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammad Shami in place of pacer Jasprit Bumrah. The injury-setbacks haven’t cost India heavily as the replacements have risen to the occasion.

Axar has proved himself with the ball but is yet to match the brilliance of Jadeja with the bat. On October 23, he was promoted up the batting order during India’s chase against Pakistan, to negotiate the threat of left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz and leg-spinner Shadab Khan. But the 28-year old got run out after a mix-up with Virat Kohli.

“They (Pakistan) had left-arm spinner Nawaz and leg-spinner Shadab so it was important to send a left-hander and I was asked to go. Since our top six are right-handers, I have been told by management that if need be I will be promoted in the middle overs and I should be ready for that. That role is already assigned and I have performed in practice games,” Axar told the media.

“The pitch was a bit dry and the ball was stopping and coming. The ball wasn’t exactly gripping so I was told to hit the deck hard as it was difficult to hit through the line. So that was the plan,” Axar said after the match as both him and R Ashwin bottled up the Dutch. After the Pakistan game, I sat with video analysts and bowling coach. Actually there will be days when a batter would take chance against you. I analyzed and out of three sixes that were hit against me, I only bowled one bad ball. You will have those days but if you keep on thinking then you can’t survive.”

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Axar bowled well against Netherlands in India’s second match of the tournament. He picked two wickets and bowled at an economy of 4.50 in his four overs. However, it remains to be seen whether captain Rohit Sharma and Co. play Patel in the upcoming match against South Africa on Sunday.

The Proteas have multiple left-handers in the top order which may lead the team management to make changes in the playing XI. Since the match will be played at Perth where the pitch suits fast bowling, Team India might want to take the field with an extra fast bowler.

“I am not thinking too much about SA game. Will go there and then take a call and what needs to be done. We need to play normal fearless cricket and not think that we are facing Rabada Nortje on a bouncy track. We also have Bhuvi, Shami and Arshdeep. We need to continue our form and see what happens. The main difference between India and Australian wickets is bounce. In India, a batter can’t easily rock on the backfoot and negotiate the low bounce. In Australia, there isn’t much purchase from the track. Hitting someone through the line isn’t difficult while going on backfoot,” Axar pointed out.




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