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Axar Patel: The potent cruise missile in Rohit Sharma's armoury

T20 World Cup 2024: Axar Patel proved his worth as an all-rounder for India in T20 WC. Axar Patel has taken 8 wickets from 7 games, 5 catches and crucial runs with the bat.

T20 World Cup 2024: Axar Patel a lethal weapon in Rohit Sharma's  armoury | Walking Wicket (Source_ ©BCCI_X)
Axar Patel's 3-23 cruise India into T20 WC finals (Source: ©BCCI/X)

Yes, India are into the finals of the ICC T20 World Cup 2024, propelled by the leadership of captain Rohit Sharma and the bowling prowess of Jasprit Bumrah. Yet, amidst all the praises showered upon these stalwarts, credit must also be duly accorded to an unsung hero from Gujarat—Axar Patel. Patel's consistent and clinical performances across bowling, batting and fielding have been instrumental in India's journey to the finals of this prestigious tournament.

Axar Patel's Player of the Match Performance

Axar Patel's standout moment came in the semi-final clash against England at Providence Stadium, Guyana, where he was rightfully adjudged the Player of the Match. His exceptional bowling figures of 3/23 included crucial dismissals of Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow, which proved crucial in restricting England to a manageable total. Patel's adeptness with the new ball and his ability to maintain pressure during field restrictions emphasises his match-winning impact. Additionally, he has contributed valuable cameos with the bat throughout the tournament. 

A Vital Component of India's Strategy

Patel's inclusion in the squad, and subsequently in the playing 11, was not without deliberation. Similar in style to Ravindra Jadeja, both being left-arm spinners and handy lower-order batters, Patel's role has been to complement India's bowling attack and provide depth in the batting lineup. 

Unlike previous tournaments where India opted for off-spinners over both Jadeja and Patel, this World Cup has seen both spinners play crucial roles, highlighting the team management's faith in their abilities across varied matchups and conditions.

Impact in Bowling

While Ravindra Jadeja struggled to make an impact with the ball in the 2024 T20 World Cup, Axar Patel rose to the occasion with 8 wickets from 7 matches. His ability to bowl during critical phases—be it the powerplay or death overs—has been crucial in maintaining control and setting up opportunities for other bowlers to attack more aggressively. 

Patel's disciplined approach and economical bowling have consistently troubled opposition batters, making him a pivotal asset for India.

T20 World Cup 2024, IND vs ENG_ India beat England and move to finals  _ Walking Wicket (Source_ ©BCCI_X)
Axar Patel has taken 8 wickets from 7 games (Source: ©BCCI/X)
Contributions with the Bat

Beyond his bowling exploits, Axar Patel has proven his worth with the bat, notably at No. 4 against Pakistan where he played a pivotal role in a partnership with Rishabh Pant. His ability to adapt to different batting positions as per the team's needs reflects his flexibility and readiness to contribute to multiple facets of the game. Patel's approach, guided by team strategy and situational awareness, has been integral in stabilising India's innings and providing impetus when required.

Axar Patel's Mindset

Following his match-winning performance against England, Axar Patel provided insights into his mindset and strategic approach. His focus on bowling stump-to-stump and varying lengths to unsettle batters shows his tactical acumen and understanding of pitch conditions. Patel's clarity in executing plans under pressure situations highlights his maturity and readiness to deliver during critical moments in high stakes matches.

"I think I didn't plan to hit wickets on first ball. I had a mindset that I have to put it in a good place. Obviously, when you play knockouts, your mindset is that you should start and finish the first and last ball well. That was in my mind. Obviously, every time I did well with the wicket, that was a plus point. I think it was difficult to hit big shots, and it was difficult to hit sweep and reverse sweep because if the ball was down on this wicket, you can't connect it so easily," Axar said in the post-match press-conference.

"Because batters have a doubt that if I go to sweep, if the ball is down, I can hit it on the pad. It depends on what line length you put. Mostly our spinners kept it stump to stump. So, it was very difficult to hit sweep rewards on this wicket."

"And to hit the front, you have to hit the front as much as possible, but as we saw in the videos, his batters are a bit on the backfoot, so he didn't get it so easily. He has to take out his leg and you have to take a step forward and play on this wicket, whatever type of wicket," Axar added.

Axar for the Final Showdown

With the Men in Blue preparing for the final match to lift the coveted trophy, Axar Patel's role assumes even greater significance. His ability to exploit the weaknesses of South Africa's right-handed batters, and a possible promotion in the batting order particularly against spinners like Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi, could be pivotal in India's quest to clinch the trophy. Patel's proven ability to rise to the occasion in crucial matches positions him as a key player in India's strategy to break an 11-year-long title drought.


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