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2nd Test, Day 2: Our thought was closer we get to the runs, the better it is, says Axar Patel

By Niharika Raina
New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) At one point, during day two’s play in the second Test at Arun Jaitley Stadium on Saturday, it looked like Australia will have a huge lead, as India were in tatters at 139/7 in 50.5 overs.

But Axar Patel, the left-arm spin all-rounder, slammed 74 off 115 balls, leading yet another lower-order resurgence act. He shared an important 114-run partnership off 177 balls with Ravichandran Ashwin, who made 37 off 71 balls, for the eighth wicket to bring India on the threshold of taking a lead, though Australia stopped them one run short.

“There was pressure in that situation, and we were a little behind in the game. After that, it became very important about how much closer we can go to the lead. So, our target was to see how much closer we are getting to the runs, then we had a partnership between Ashwin and me. The wicket was also a little easy and we got set very well. Our thought was closer we get to the runs, the better it is. So, that was our plan and the lead was of only one run,” said Axar in the post-match press conference.

After making 84 in the first Test at Nagpur last week, Axar backed that performance with a well-made 74 after coming in at number eight, hitting nine fours and three sixes, with his flat six over extra cover off Todd Murphy being the standout shot from his swashbuckling knock. Axar stated that building up on confidence with the bat has been a vital factor.

“It’s not like that. Like, it is about a particular day, the confidence level, and the frame of mind you are in. So, all of these factors are very important. I have been coming from white-ball cricket and I was in good touch in the first game too. So, I am carrying that confidence. When you are feeling that you are in good form, then it is important to build on it. So, the mindset is to play consistently for a longer period.”

Having bowled 12 overs on day one of the pitch in New Delhi, Axar pointed out that being an all-rounder has given him the advantage of getting adjusted to the pace of the wicket quickly and get a thinking insight into what the bowler must be planning when he’s batting.

“In terms of technique, being a spinner myself, I do think over how much difficulty batters get on playing my deliveries. So, I use the same technique, like one bowls to me on same areas and defends constantly. I then think to do trying something else. So, when someone bowls a good ball to me, then we try to tackle it confidently and defend very well so that the bowler is forced to think about doing something else.”

“I really feel that having a bowlers mindset is helping me in matters like this. I batted and bowled on this pitch, so I have gotten used to pace of the wicket, which is working for me.”

In the last 12 months, Axar has turned attention with some serious batting knocks, like a vital 17-ball 38 not out when playing for Delhi Capitals in the IPL 2022 or smashing an unbeaten 35-ball 64, including the winning six, in the second ODI against the West Indies last year. He attributes his useful batting contributions to having a mindset of being determined to finishing games.

“When I was with the Delhi Capitals, I used to have chats with Ricky over what new I can do with the bat and when I got into the Indian team, I used to speak to players over batting for a longer period. Like, I used to bat and used to leave it to 30-40, and was unable to get crucial finishes.”

“The main thing I realised is about the mindset and what are you thinking in your mind. Like, when you take a wicket or two, you could get casual, and that is what I felt I needed to improve on.”

“So, I had in my mind that I have to finish the match and then I will go. That is the thing which I am thinking when coming out to bat, like I have to get set and finish the match. So, that is the main difference in last one and a half years.”