The scorecard of the Delhi Capitals vs. Royal Challengers Bangalore would make you understand how Kagiso Rabada ripped through Bangalore’s batting lineup. He took four wickets for 24 runs, while Marcus Stoinis scored a quickfire half-century.
While their impact on the game was immense, the scoreboard would not highlight the impact of Axar Patel.
Already under the radar side with fantastic spinners, Axar Patel continues to get overshadowed despite consistent but quiet performances. He managed to keep a leash on the oppositions, going at an economy of 4.57 after four games. His economy rate is among the best in the tournament so far.
Against Bangalore, Axar Patel didn’t get superstars like Virat Kohli or Ab De Villiers. He stuck to the basics well by building up the pressure through dot balls. The pressure created by him resulted in a steep rise in the required rate, while wickets fell at the other end. The wickets falling at the other end can be credited to Axar Patel, as the pressure applied by him was crucial.
Along with a tight spell, he managed to pick up two wickets, including Aaron Finch, early in the innings.
After the game, he was given his share of the credit by his teammates. Ravichandran Ashwin started by saying that Axar Patel is someone who goes under the radar. The pressure he builds is what allows others to look for wickets.
He further went onto say that Axar Patel is the kind of player who is appreciated in the dressing room, particularly by Ricky Ponting.
The Capitals have stuck to a fixed plan on the way they would use Axar Patel this season. They looked to bowl him in the first ten overs. After not conceding a single boundary against Punjab, Axar Patel was used in the powerplay to create more pressure in their first game. By applying pressure, he got batsmen to hole out in the deep and proved to be a very efficient spinner.
Despite his success, he was out of the side once Ashwin recovered from his injury. He may have been away longer, if not for Amit Mishra’s fitness. Amit Mishra’s injury allowed Axar Patel to play the game against Bangalore, which turned out to be a great game.
Coming into the game against Bangalore, Axar Patel had the challenge of bowling to Virat Kohli, who had regained his touch.
He started his spell defensively and slowly became more and more aggressive. He varied his pace between 85 to 95 kph. He mixed things up nicely and had one point managed to bring Kohli’s strike rate under 100, restricting Kohli from scoring in places where he usually would.
He managed to bowl ten dots to Kohli, keeping him quiet, while picking up the wicket of Moenn Ali at the other end. The pressure eventually got to Kohli, who took the match all on himself. He was out to Kagiso Rabada, which potentially wrapped up the game.
Following yesterday’s game, It is clear that Patel has an exact role for the Delhi Capitals.
While Rabada bowls most of his overs in the second half of the game, the job of Axar Patel is to create pressure. By building tension, the batsmen may end up giving their wickets going after other bowlers. The plan that has been in use may result in wickets falling to Axar Patel’s teammates, rather than him, but it may be fine as long as he fulfills his role with precision.
His role in the side may increase as the tournament goes on, especially with the absence of leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who has is out due to a finger injury.