Can Axar Patel bat his way out of Ravindra Jadeja’s shadow in Indian cricket team?
Axar Patel has shown in the recent one-day series -- against Sri Lanka cricket team and Australia cricket team -- that he can be quite a useful spinning option. If he can up his batting, he could become a permanent replacement for Ravindra Jadeja in the limited-overs Indian cricket teamindia vs australia 2017 Updated: Oct 06, 2017 14:00 IST
For the Indian cricket team, the period after the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy has been all about finding the right mix. With the 2019 ICC World Cup in mind, the team management has not shied away from experiments.
The process has seen India use two wrist spinners -- Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav -- in ODIs against Sri Lanka and Australia cricket team, while Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were ‘rested’. The latter was called as injured Axar Patel’s replacement for the first three ODIs against Australia but was not included in the playing XI.
Axar came back strongly and finished as India’s top wicket-taker with three scalps in the fifth ODI in Nagpur. More than those wickets, it was his economy rate of 3.8 that stood out . That’s not so surprising as his average economy stands at 4.36 in ODIs and 6.12 in T20Is.
The figures are definitely better than those of the Jadeja, whose back-up role he has been playing so far. Jadeja’s economy is 4.90 in ODIs and 7.27 in T20Is. In terms of wickets, Patel (29.88) has a better strike-rate than Jadeja’s (35.87) in ODIs. In T20Is too, Axar (27.14) has a better average than Jadeja (31.70).
In this season of change for Indian cricket, Axar becoming the first-choice left-arm off-spinner would add a fresh look to India’s line-up. While chinaman Kuldeep Yadav’s hat-trick against Australia cricket team and Yuzvendra Chahal’s consistency have made them the find of the series, Axar has also tried to lap up the opportunity while Jadeja has been rested by the selectors.
The one factor that worked for Jadeja so far has been his batting. He gave India the option of a spin-bowling allrounder. Though he continues to remain a force in Tests, Jadeja hasn’t been able to cross the score 25 in any of the ODIs he has played since June 2015.
Also, with the emergence of Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav, both of whom have shown potential as allrounders, the urgency to have a spinning all-rounder have somewhat diminished in the Indian line-up.
Axar, though, may do himself a world of good if he improves his batting too. Though he has a century in first-class cricket, his record in international cricket is unimpressive. His highest score from 36 ODIs is 38, while in eight T20Is, it’s 20 n.o. He, however, showed signs of improvement in the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL), where he scored 227 in 14 matches, at a strike-rate of 140.12.
If he can build on that good show in international cricket matches , Axar may well solidify his place in the limited-overs team.