NEW DELHI: Right through the IPL season, Axar Patel has been the unsung hero for Delhi Capitals. Not that he hasn’t always been consistent: Axar had broken into the top-10 ICC rankings in ODI cricket in 2016 when he lost his place in the Indian team.
“It was a difficult phase. I got injured when I was in the top 10. There are going to be negative vibes when you are out of the team,” Axar told TOI from Dubai. “I categorically told my friends and family that they should not talk about my career. Even this year, when I am doing well, they keep telling me about my chances and I ask them to refrain from such comments. I keep telling myself that I am 26 and it’s not that I can’t make a comeback.”
His injury coincided with the rise of wrist-spinners as potent weapons in white-ball cricket. Finger-spinners became the inferior breed in the public eye. “Obviously, wrist spinners have more advantage. They can spin the ball more and the wicket-taking options are more,” Axar said before adding that there was no point in brooding about it.
“I just think like a spinner-can’t get into this wrist and finger spinner debate. If you consistently hit the right line and length, it’s difficult to get hit. As a finger spinner, I know what my strength is.”
Axar, along with Ashwin, is doing his bit to keep his tribe alive in these times. So he gave a peek into the ways of survival in T20 cricket. “I was trying more variations in the previous years. I used to think too much about the line to bowl to different batsmen. All I am doing now is varying the pace depending on the pitch and the batsman. I have started bowling a lot slower, use the crease better,” he said.
That he has answered the call for Capitals almost every time this season can be attributed this clarity in his thought process. And that has much to do with head coach Ricky Ponting‘s little man-to-man talk halfway through the last season . “Ponting told me that I am his main bowler in the team. He said he trusted me more than I trust myself. That stayed with me. I was nervous since we didn’t play for five months. Whenever I doubt myself, I think about what a three-time World Cup winner like him thinks about me. ”
So when you bring up the four consecutive sixes MS Dhoni hit him in 2017, he smiles and says: “I have gained experience to deal with those situations. I am past that phase.”