Ricky Ponting Played A Secret Role In Improving Axar Patel’s Batting: The Rohit Sharma-led Indian cricket team continued with their brilliant form in the ongoing 4-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy series as they defeated Australia with relative ease in the second Test at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi.
For India, all-rounders Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja were the chief architects of the victory. Axar’s combination with senior players Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja has turned out to be too good.
Patel batted alongside Ashwin (37), scoring a game-changing 74 in the second Test against Australia on Saturday, which was followed after his crucial knock of 84 runs in Nagpur. Patel’s knock of 74 runs off 115 balls was laced with 9 fours and 3 stunning sixes, which came at the strike rate of 64.35.
Over time, Axar’s batting skills have improved amazingly. While everyone was left impressed with the stunning batting performance of the all-rounder, former Indian batter Mohammad Kaif was not so surprised by Axar’s attitude.
Ricky Ponting Played A Huge Role In Improving Axar Patel’s Game
Yes, you read that right. Kaif, who was with Axar Patel in Delhi Capital as their assistant coach, showered praises on Patel’s performance and revealed how head coach Ricky Ponting played a huge role in improving the batting skills of the Indian all-rounder. In an interview with the Indian Express, Kaif said:
“He is so sorted, chilled out. He doesn’t get tense whether he is batting or bowling. In a crisis situation, those who play as if there is no crisis do well. It allows the confidence in the skill set to flow through.”
Well, Ponting and Kaif both came into the picture in the 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League, that took place in Dubai. Kaif recalled Axar “He is so sorted, chilled out. He doesn’t get tense whether he is batting or bowling. In a crisis situation, those who play as if there is no crisis do well. It allows the confidence in the skill set to flow through.He revealed:
“I remember telling him that Jadeja had shown the path. How Jadeja went to the next level after the 2018 tour of England. Axar wanted to take his batting up to the next level. We had paid a hefty price for him, and were seeing him as an all-rounder, who could finish games,”
However, Axar had a big weakness — his leg-side game was targeted by the best of the opposition bowlers operating in the death overs. Kaif revealed:
“They would bowl at his body, and get him caught down the leg side. At best, he was looking to tap those balls away for a single to the leg side. That full range wasn’t there.”
Time and again, Axar has also revealed his conversations with the former Australian captain that had helped him with his batting. The main discussion used to be about his shoulder. Kaif said:
“The front shoulder was a touch closed,” He added: “Ponting felt that to open up his leg-side game, make it more fluent, the front shoulder needs to be opened up a touch. Face more of mid-on rather than be cut off completely by being too side-on.”
He added: “It wasn’t as if he was reluctant in the years before, but see by the time he finished his bowling at the nets, and the top batsmen were done, the main bowlers would have finished. We decided that throwdowns would be better to get the ‘shoulder’ thing sorted. I would throw, mix up with the short stuff at the chest-high, and slip in the fuller one. I could see Axar get more and more comfortable with the on-side shots.”
Kaif then talked about the visible changes in the batting of Patel. He said: “In Dubai itself, remember the game where Axar hit Ravindra Jadeja for sixes in the final game to win against CSK?” Kaif asks. “I remember he came back from that game feeling so happy and confident about his game.”
“Because it wasn’t such a big change. His off-side game was already so compact. He had the punchy shots and the drives. He has confidence in his defence. Once it went into his zehen (being), that he can actually be a good batsman, a finisher, and did the hard work, his all-round batting changed. Once, what is considered a weakness by oneself is no longer that, the confidence in other parts of the game grows a lot,”