Axar Patel was in line for a debut during the first Test itself but a knee niggle just before the start led to him being sidelined on which the debutant spoke in the virtual media conference after 3rd days play about his decision to miss 1st test at length.
“Actually, I didn’t want to play my first match with a niggle and if I broke down in the middle of the game, that would have put my team in trouble. It wouldn’t have been a good thing and I didn’t want that to happen.
“So it was a conscious decision taken after consulting the physio. I was frustrated but positive side is I could give my 100 percent in second match.”
Axar feels that critics of spinner-friendly tracks need to change their mindset as Indian team has never complained about tackling seamer-friendly green tops overseas.
Many experts like Michael Vaughan, Mark Waugh & Simon Hughes termed this pitch as underprepared, not good for the game but India has managed 286 runs on the 3rd day with a century from number 8 batsman.
“If you are talking about pitch, I don’t think any ball hit the helmet. There is normal spin on offer. We are playing on same track and scoring runs, so I don’t think anyone should have any problems and feel that wicket is like this or that and so on and so forth,” Axar said.
The 27-year-old Gujarat left-arm spinner, whose debut Test is also his 50th international game for India accross formats , took a dig at the English commentators and media for their take on the Chepauk surface.
“Also when we go overseas, we never complained while playing on seaming track and complained that there is more grass on the wicket. I think people need to change their mindset rather than thinking about the wicket,” he said after third day’s play.
Axar explained that on this track, one needs to hit the deck hard in order to make use of the turn on offer.
“On this wicket, there is help for spinners so you don’t need to do anything extra,” he said.
“When you are putting a bit more effort and body into the ball, then you are getting the ball to spin. When you are hitting the deck hard, then only you are getting the ball to turn.
“If you are releasing it slowly, there is not much help for the slow bowlers. So hitting the deck with a decent speed is important and that’s creating difficulty for batsmen. If you bowl slow, then batsman are moving to back foot and adjusting,” Axar said.
So was India’s batting performance a statement to all those who criticised the track? “When we play, we don’t think that outside world matters to us and we would like to give a message. We played normal cricket. If it was fourth day, we would have thought about declaring but it was third day and we had enough time. We thought we have to bat long,” he spoke about the team’s strategy.
Axar showed lot of respect for Ashwin :
“Myself and Ash have played a lot of cricket together and I have learnt a lot over the years about mindset from him. We have different actions and variations, so we generally talk about mindsets and working out various batsmen.”
**By Amitava Mukherjee