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2nd Test, Day 2: Stopping Australia to 220-250 would be a good target, reckons Axar Patel

By Niharika Raina
New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) India’s left-arm spin all-rounder Axar Patel believes that stopping Australia to 220-250 on day three of second Test at the Arun Jaitley Stadium should set up to be a good target for the hosts.

Before stumps on day two of the match on Saturday, Travis Head made an instant impression as an opener, slamming five fours and a six to be unbeaten on 39, while Marnus Labuschagne hit three boundaries off Ravindra Jadeja to be unconquered on 16 as Australia reached 61/1 in 12 overs at stumps, with a healthy run-rate of 5.08 and lead at 62 runs.

‘The faster we bowl them out, the better it is for us. If we can stop them to 220-250, then it would be a good target for batting on third or fourth day. For that, we will have to bowl well as the pitch is getting slower. We will have to work hard to stop them to that total as it won’t be easy to fetch wickets immediately. You will have to bowl consistently in good areas to make things happen,” he said in the post-match press conference.

With Australia looking aggressive after making 263 in the first innings, Axar noted that the Indian team has started to think about how they can put a stop to run-flow on Sunday. “In the last session, the way they are playing, we thought they are playing aggressively and they are noticing that.”

“At the end of the way, we are now thinking about our planning and what we can do differently against what batters and what field placement we can put. We are thinking about that and hope so, we are following that tomorrow.”

Asked about his observations of the pitch and difference in bowling with new and old balls, Axar opined varying speed will be the key to get wickets as pitch is getting slower day by day. “The new ball is skidding and is coming out with pace. After that, when the ball gets old, and wicket is getting slower and that means ball is not coming on to the bat.”

“You will have to wary your speed, so I feel that with the semi-new ball, the pitch becomes hard and becomes easy for batting, like what we saw in last two sessions, because the pitch is getting a bit slower.”