“Ravi Bhai, would you have gone with Kuldeep Yadav,” asked Karthik on Day 2, highlighting the spinner’s absence from all the four Tests in the series.
India find themselves in a tough spot in the ongoing Ahmedabad Test after Australia, who won the toss and opted to bat, piled a massive 480 on the board in first innings. Carrom-ball specialist R Ashwin scalped six wickets as openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, who walked out to bat towards the end of Day 2, helped India reach 36/0, still trailing by 444 runs at stumps.
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Apart from Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, who was fielded in the playing XI in place of Mohammed Siraj, scalped two, while Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel scalped a wicket each. With spinners, who have dominated the series, failing to break the shackles, India wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik posed an interesting question to fellow commentator Ravi Shastri.
“Ravi Bhai, would you have gone with Kuldeep Yadav,” Karthik was quoted asking by the Indian Express on Day 2, highlighting the spinner’s absence from all the four Tests in the series. However, Shastri backed Axar’s selection over the Chinaman spinner, during which he also made a bold claim regarding the series outcome. “Very early. But if it wouldn’t have been for Axar’s batting, this series would’ve looked a lot different. India wanted strength in their batting and they got it. Had it not been for his innings in Delhi, India wouldn’t have been able to be 2-0. And his innings in Nagpur,” said Shastri in response.
Axar has been instrumental with the bat, scoring 84 in the first innings in Nagpur and scored a gritty 74 in the following encounter in Delhi as many from the Indian camp failed to resist the Australian spin attack led by Nathan Lyon. In fact Axar is currently the second highest run-scorer among the Indian batters, having accumulated 185 runs from four innings.
However, with the ball Axar has been far from effective managing just two scalps in the 67 overs he has bowled in the series. While Axar has failed to create an impact with the ball, his colleagues Ashwin and Jadeja have ruled the bowling charts. Both the spinners have scalped over 20 wickets, with the Australian second innings still left to be played.
Sharing his thoughts on Axar’s sub par show with the ball, Shastri added: “You couldn’t have used him previously (in the series). Because the ball was turning. Then Ashwin and Jadeja become your primary bowlers. But here, you need him. And he’s done the containing job well.”
If we look at Axar’s figures in the first innings of the Ahmedabad Test, the spinner conceded 47 runs from 28 overs at an economy of 1.70, the best by an Indian bowler. In fact, Axar had given just 24 runs in his first 20 overs.