India’s latest five-wicket hauler, Axar Patel, divulged some details about why he got more wickets by LBW on Wednesday. The left-arm spinner remarked that he was trying to bowl on the stumps. He added that the glinting pink ball that skidded off the surface helped him.
Patel returned remarkable figures of 6-19 in England’s first innings and played a significant role in helping India bundle out the hosts for a paltry 112.
Three of these wickets – Dom Sibley (0), Jonny Bairstow (0), and Ben Stokes (6) – came as LBWs. Even the remaining dismissals were off the balls that slid through into the batsmen.
Speaking after the day’s play, Axar Patel explained the ideal speeds on the Ahmedabad surface would be 85-90 kph to make the best use of any help available.
“When things are not going in your favor, Test cricket feels difficult but when they are, you need to continue performing. It’s my strength to bowl at one spot. So I try to keep it wicket-to-wicket and use the pitch to my advantage. In Chennai, the ball was not skidding (off the wicket). But this pink ball is very shiny and it was skidding on the wicket so I got more wickets by LBW. If you give ball a bit of air and bowl at 85-90 kmph it was skidding.”
Interestingly, playing on his home ground, Patel got a wicket off both his first and last balls in the innings. Jofra Archer (11), Stuart Broad (3), and Ben Foakes (12) were his other three victims in that order.
Axar Patel further remarked that T20 cricket has negatively impacted the patient game of batsmen, thus aiding the accurate bowlers.
“I think T20 cricket is so prelavent now a days that even in Test cricket batsmen don’t play patiently for long. That’s why keeping a tight line and pushing it through quicker is being more successful. If the batsman is defending well with confidence, then you go on the back foot in your mind. But if he’s not defending well and going for sweeps and reverse-sweeps you feel there’s a chance coming.”
In response to England’s target, the Indians have ridden their luck and are perched comfortably at 99-3. Rohit Sharma (57*) and co. will look to capitalize on the batting-friendly afternoon session when the game resumes on Thursday.