This is a story of a boy who at the age of 16, had dreams of becoming a mechanical engineer. But, two years later, he was sitting in the Mumbai Indians’ dressing room with Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.
Born and brought up in Nadiar, an hour away from Ahmedabad, Axar never thought he will become a professional cricketer one day. If not for his father’s insistence, the tall left-arm spinner might not have played professional cricket in his life.
“My dad always insisted my free time should be spent playing sport, and back in our village we didn’t have too many facilities for other sports, so he put me into a cricket camp even though I hated playing with the leather ball. There were a couple of occasions where I used to leave home telling him I’m off to the nets, but used to hang out with my friends and play with the tennis ball. He looked at my whites and instantly found out I wasn’t actually playing. From there on he insisted on dropping and picking me up every day. And it became a routine that I started enjoying after some time,” says Axar Patel to Wisden India, in an interview.
Axar Patel’s first big achievement came in a school tournament, where he performed brilliantly with the bat. His good performances impressed his Physical Education teacher who asked the district selectors to register him for the U19 trials. Axar, once again impressed the selectors, and soon he made a name for himself within the state’s Junior Circuit.
On the back of some brilliant performances at the state level, Axar made his Ranji Trophy for Gujarat in 2012. Axar was also awarded the Indian Premier League (IPL) contract in 2013. But, it was in the month August last year that he made a name for himself at the national level. Axar played a key role in ACC Emerging Team’s Cup in Singapore. Same year, in the Ranji Trophy, he scored 369 runs and took 29 wickets.
On the basis of these performances, Axar was picked by Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2014. His orthodox left-arm spin and lower-order hitting, was praised by one and all during IPL 2014, where Punjab finished runners-up. Axar’s ability to not let the batsmen score freely, and made him a compulsory selection.
In the going CLT20 tournament, Axar has been given a huge responsibility by Kings XI Punjab, as he’s playing as a specialist spinner. It’s very important that Axar keeps working hard and doesn’t get carried away with the attention that he is getting.
He is only 20 and his best years are clearly ahead of him