Cricket has witnessed its fair share of extraordinary journeys, but few can match the peculiar trajectory of Axar Patel’s Test career. From a like-for-like replacement for Ravindra Jadeja to becoming an overnight sensation with the ball and now emerging as a potent batting force, Patel’s story has been a rollercoaster of surprises and unconventional performances. As we delve into his unprecedented journey, we ponder upon the direction his Test career might take next.
The Meteoric Rise
Axar Patel immediately captured the world’s attention when he made his Test debut against England in 2021. Filling in for the injured Jadeja, Patel showcased his accuracy and round-arm darts, taking an astonishing 27 wickets in his first three matches. With a staggering average of 10.59, he achieved four 5-wicket hauls in his initial six innings, surpassing all expectations. His uncanny success raised questions about the sustainability of his remarkable form.
A Period of Transition
Following his exceptional start, Patel faced a sudden drop in form. Taking four matches to claim his next three wickets, he experienced a slump that left doubts lingering over his future in the Indian side. However, this dip in bowling performance didn’t mark the end of Axar Patel‘s contributions. Instead, it signalled the emergence of his batting prowess.
A Batting Revelation
In the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Patel stunned cricket enthusiasts by emerging as the series’ third-highest run-scorer. With 264 runs in five innings, he boasted an average of 88, surpassing all other batters. Remarkably, these runs came in a series characterised by challenging batting conditions. Patel’s ability to rescue his team from precarious situations with confidence and clarity highlighted his steadily improving batting skills. This series solidified his reputation as a versatile player with untapped potential.
The Dilemma of Batting Order
As Axar Patel continues to develop his skill sets and exceed expectations, the Indian team faces a problem regarding his batting position. Recent Test matches against Australia revealed that Patel’s batting prowess makes him too good to occupy the lower order. One potential solution is playing Patel at number seven, shifting KS Bharat down to eight. However, this adjustment might be limited to home Tests, as the return of Rishabh Pant could restrict Patel’s highest attainable batting position to number eight.
Challenges in Away Games
While Patel’s rise as a batsman is undeniable, the realities of away Test matches pose a hurdle. In ‘SENA’ countries, India rarely opts for two spinners, making it unlikely for Patel to secure a spot in the starting XI alongside Jadeja and Ashwin. Unfortunately, the lack of opportunities in the current Indian Test team restricts the utilisation of Patel’s diverse skills and potential career trajectory.
Axar Patel’s Test career has defied conventional norms, leaving cricket enthusiasts in awe and intrigue. From his exceptional performances with the ball to his unexpected rise as a top-order batsman, Patel has defied expectations at every turn. As Patel’s story continues to unfold, cricket fans can only anticipate more surprises and unconventional moments, solidifying his status as one of the game’s most intriguing characters.