Team India marked their return to Test cricket in the series opener against England in Hyderabad, and the surprising selection of Axar Patel over Kuldeep Yadav raised eyebrows. In a unexpected move, Ben Stokes, England’s captain, chose to bat after revealing the playing XI with three spinners and one pacer, Mark Wood.
On the other hand, Indian captain Rohit Sharma confirmed the trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Axar Patel as the leading spinners.
The focal point of discussion revolved around the choice between Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav for the third spinner spot. Despite the tough decision, Axar Patel, renowned for his stellar performances in home Tests, got the nod in Hyderabad. Captain Rohit Sharma emphasized the difficulty of the decision, stating, “It was a tough one (to leave out Kuldeep Yadav), and we thought a lot about it.”
Rohit justified Axar’s selection by highlighting his commendable batting skills and the depth he adds to the lineup. “Axar, whenever he has played, he has done well and bats really well in these conditions. He gives his batting depth as well,” Rohit explained during the toss.
Former India spinner Anil Kumble also supported Axar’s inclusion, suggesting that the absence of Virat Kohli may have influenced Rohit’s concern about the team’s batting depth in the opening Test. Kohli opted out of the first two Tests due to personal reasons. Kumble remarked, “Axar gives you a bit of batting depth, and also because of his success against England. He bowls wicket-to-wicket. One can turn, one can go straight.”
In a game where the absence of stalwarts like Kohli, Pujara, and Rahane added pressure on Rohit Sharma, the strategic decision to include Axar Patel showcased the team’s emphasis on a balanced and formidable spin arsenal. As the series unfolds, Axar’s role in providing both bowling prowess and batting depth will be closely watched by fans and experts alike.