India left-arm spinner Axar Patel said that he just looks to enjoy on the field and is not concerned about not having a lead role in the team’s spin department. He added that his focus when on-field is on his bowling and how he can contribute to the team doing well.
Patel was the star for India in day three of the first Test on Saturday, picking his fifth five-wicket haul in just his seventh Test innings in bowling out New Zealand for 296, thus giving India a vital 49-run lead.
“Whenever I go to the ground, I just look to enjoy. That time, I don’t think that there is (Ravichandran) Ashwin bhai or (Ravindra Jadeja) Jaddu bhai while I don’t have a lead role. When the ball is in my hand, I am looking to enjoy and see what is the behaviour of the pitch. I don’t think about the senior bowlers in the team or having a lead role. I think about my own bowling and how to bowl as per the team’s requirement,” said Patel in the virtual press conference.
Patel opined that his usage of the crease on day three fetched him crucial scalps. “As compared to the ten overs yesterday, I was using the crease a lot more today. Whenever I bowled today, the plan was to use the crease well, especially from the outside or closer to the stumps. It helped me in getting some purchase from the wickets.”
He then explained about the mood in the dressing room when India didn’t get a wicket and were made to toil hard for 66 overs. “We were talking within the team. Obviously, it is very difficult when you are not getting a wicket for 67 overs. You start to wonder, why is this happening. But the dressing room was calm as Ajju bhai (Ajinkya Rahane) and Rahul sir were talking to everyone and helped in keeping the environment the way it was.”
“They had planned that we will have to keep patience and had talked that if we get a wicket, then we will get two-three more and innings will open up. The patience with which we bowled in the first and second sessions, got rewarded for it today. If we had taken pressure after not getting a wicket in 67 overs, we wouldn’t have got the result and could have made things difficult. We knew that we had five bowlers and anyone could step up, which happened today.”
Patel was appreciative of substitute keeper KS Bharat’s show behind the wickets, in absence of regular wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha due to neck stiffness. Bharat had taken two catches and effected a stumping off his bowling. “It is not easy for anyone to be in the fifteen and then suddenly you come to keep wickets on the field, especially after Wridhhi bhai had a stiff neck. He was practising in the ground in the morning and had just ten minutes to warm up. It is very tough to keep on wickets like this. The way he collected, took catches and did the stumping, I think he will get better in coming times.”
The 27-year-old signed off by saying that the bowlers will advise the batters to maintain patience and wait for a bad ball to score runs on a slow pitch.
“Our batters were also at the ground and they must have got a bit of idea of how the pitch will behave. Our talk was about the odd ball which will come up from the cracks. I believe that if you play the ball on merit, then it is not happening that much in terms of uneven bounce or something else. The odd ball is either turning or keeping low. They can trouble our batters if they bowl with consistency and patience. We will tell our batters to keep patience and wait for the bad ball to come. When bad ball comes, then go for the runs.”