How Ricky Ponting ‘made a few technique changes...’ to transform Axar Patel's batting

Mar 15, 2023 10:01 AM IST

Axar Patel ended up hurting Australia far more as a batter than with the ball during their recently concluded four-Test series in India.

India's recently concluded Test series against Australia was one played on pitches that were largely difficult for batters to deal with. While the last Test was played on a rather docile pitch, the remainder of the series was played on pitches that heavily favoured spin bowling. It meant that batters, particularly those in the top order, largely struggled and for India, it led to a rather unlikely hero being uncovered in their batting lineup.

Axar ended the series as the third highest run scorer behind Usman Khawaja and Virat Kohli(AFP)
Axar ended the series as the third highest run scorer behind Usman Khawaja and Virat Kohli(AFP)

Axar Patel, who in Test cricket had made a bigger name for his bowling than his batting, was India's highest run scorer for a significant period and ended as the third highest run scorer in the series overall. Axar scored 264 runs in five innings at an average of 88.00, hitting three half centuries.

Having bowled just half of the number of overs that Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja bowled, Axar ended up doing more damage as a batter than as a bowler in the series.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting said that he had seen Axar's batting skills back in the all-rounder's younger days itself. Ponting has worked extensively with Axar, first in the latter's only year with the Mumbai Indians in 2013 and now as part of the Delhi Capitals, of whom Ponting is the coach, since 2019. Speaking on the ICC Review, Ponting said he knew that Axar had a certain amount of batting skill and they made just a few technique changes to help him get better with the bat.

"I've known Axar for a long time and he was only a young boy in the squad at Mumbai when I first went there," Ponting said. "I've known that there's been a certain amount of batting skill there that really, apart from the last couple of years, he hadn't really been showing at IPL level or even at international level.

“There were a few little technique changes that we made with him. We just opened up his hips and his shoulders a little bit. So he was a bit more chest-on towards the right-arm fast bowlers," said the Delhi Capitals head coach.

Axar managed scores of over 70 in three of the five innings that he batted during the series. In the first Test, he scored 84 off 174 balls, sharing an 88-run stand with Ravindra Jadeja off 211 balls for the eighth wicket and then a 52-run stand with Mohammed Shami for the ninth which knocked the wind out of Australia's sails. He then scored 74 off 115 balls in the second Test which all but wiped off the strong lead that Australia were seemingly set to get when they had reduced India to 139/7 in response to their first innings score of 263. India won both matches. Axar then scored 79 runs in a 162-run stand with Virat Kohli in the final Test as the latter ended his over three-year drought of Test centuries at the other end.

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