Axar Patel eyes record fifer in 4th Test, also has a chance to get past Hirwani
- India vs England: He upped the ante on home turf as the third Test was played in Ahmedabad, which was also a pink ball Test. Axar was in terrific form as he ended with figures of 6/38 and 5/32 to become the first bowler to pick 11 wickets in a pink ball Test.
The fourth Test between India and England starts in Ahmedabad from Thursday and all eyes will once again be on the Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel. The pitch for the fourth and final Test is expected to help the tweakers yet again and local lad Axar will be hoping to bring the curtains down on a memorable debut series with yet another stellar performance.
Axar, who missed the first Test due to an injury, made an immediate impact when he made his debut in the second Test in Chennai. With India a match down in the series after the opener, Axar was expected to aid Ashwin as the hosts tried to turn the tables on Joe Root and his men.
The left-arm spinner warmed-up to the task by picking 2 wickets in the first innings as Ashwin took the lead role in dismantling England's batting. But the Gujarat spinner was the destroyer-in-chief in the second innings as he picked up his maiden fifer to set up India's victory.
He upped the ante on home turf as the third Test was played in Ahmedabad, which was also a pink ball Test. Axar was in terrific form as he ended with figures of 6/38 and 5/32 to become the first bowler to pick 11 wickets in a pink ball Test.
As he gets ready to turn up for the third Test match of his career, the left-arm spinner is on the cusp of making several firsts. After his fifer in the second innings of the third Test, Axar became only the third bowler since Australia's Clarrie Grimmett (in 1925) and England's Tom Richardson (1983) to pick up three consecutive five-wicket hauls from their debut Tests.
If he picks up a fifer in England's first innings of the fourth Test then he will become the first bowler to pick five-wicket haul in 4 consecutive innings since Test debut.
Not just that, Axar is also in line to become the most successful bowler in Test history after playing 3 Test matches. With 18 wickets from his first 2 Tests, Axar needs to pick 14 wickets or more in the final Test to go past former India leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani, who had picked 31 wickets in his first three matches.
Hirwani made a dream start to his Test career but faded away very quickly. Axar though would hope that he could have a long stint in the whites for Team India. The left-arm spinner has already played in limited overs cricket for the team, but a chance injury to Ravindra Jadeja presented him the opportunity to showcase his skills with the red ball.
Jadeja's return to fitness could mean Axar might find it difficult to break into the playing XI, owing to the former's superior ability with the bat. But he has a chance to make a strong case for him being retained in the Test squad with yet another match winning performance.