The last time Amit Mishra and Axar Patel featured together for India was in a One-Day International in October. The spin duo shared seven wickets to hand the team a series win over New Zealand. In the process, they became the highest rated Indian bowlers in the ICC rankings.
However, much has changed since then, and on Saturday, the two spinners will look to make a case for an India call-up when Delhi Daredevils host Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League.
In the ODI series against New Zealand, the Indian team management rested both the regular spinners - Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja – due to the heavy Test schedule. Instead, they opted for the seasoned Mishra and young Patel.
It was a golden opportunity for Mishra, who was making his comeback after almost a year, and he didn’t disappoint. The leg-spinner went on to become the most successful bowler in the series with 15 wickets and was declared the Man-of-the-Series. Left-arm spinner Axar provided great support with economical bowling and was rewarded with a career-high ICC ranking of 9.
However, the happy times didn’t last long for the two spinners.
Amit Mishra didn’t play a single match in the ODI series against England as Ashwin and Jadeja made their comeback. It got worse for the leg-spinner as he picked up a knee injury during the T20 series and was ruled out of the one-off Test against Bangladesh.
Axar Patel’s situation was somewhat similar as he was sidelined due to a serious thumb injury. The 23-year-old, a substitute fielder in the fifth Test against England in Chennai, suffered a ligament tear in his left thumb while attempting a catch.
With the injury concerns behind them, Mishra and Patel are out to prove themselves in the IPL, a tournament which has played a big role in their career.
Mishra, the second highest wicket-taker in the IPL, produced a brilliant spell (3/11) to guide Delhi Daredevils to victory over Rising Pune Supergiant in their last game. Axar, who was the breakout star for Kings XI Punjab in 2014, has also made a good start by claiming three wickets in three matches with an economy rate of 6.25. His batting has been a bonus.
The past one year has been rough for both the spinners, but when Delhi Daredevils take on Kings XI Punjab on Saturday, the stage will be set for them to show the selectors why they deserve a spot in India’s squad for the Champions Trophy to be played in England in June.