Kohli and Ashwin laud debutant Axar for his composure

India’s senior players, skipper Virat Kohli and R Ashwin have lavished praise on debutant Axar Patel, who became only the sixth Indian bowler to take a five-wicket haul on debut, for showing no signs of nervousness in his first match. His haul helped India beat England by 317 runs in the second Test to bring the series level at 1-1.

“He was very keen to step onto the field, and as a left-arm spinner, when you get that kind of a pitch where it is turning square and he bowls so fast, he was just all smiles, he couldn’t wait to get the ball in his hands,” said skipper Kohli after the Test.

Patel, 27, was supposed to play the first match but could not as he had a niggle. Shahbaz Nadeem, who was in the reserves, replaced him.

“Actually, he would have played the first game as well if he didn’t have that niggle,” said Kohli. “Hope he builds it up from here on, and has a very strong couple of games going forward, so he’s always in the mix to play Test cricket for India.”

Off-spinner R Ashwin, who won the Man of the Match award for his century and eight-wicket match haul, said Axar was good throughout the match and played as if it was another first-class match.

“I thought Axar bowled beautifully. Even in the first innings he was pretty good. He got his rewards in the second innings. He didn’t look like [he was] nervous. He looked like he was there. It didn’t look like he was under pressure. He just turned up like he would turn up for a first-class game and bowl beautifully,” he said.

Ashwin also praised Kuldeep Yadav, and said that early wicket gave him the confidence he needed.

“Sometimes when you bowling after long time, to get confidence with an early wicket, is always very important. The moment he got the batsman to drive, he was going to be handful,” the off-spinner said.