Kuldeep Yadav has been picked as the lone wrist-spinner in India’s Asia Cup squad with Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel as the other two spinners. But Yuzvendra Chahal was the big omission from India’s 18-member side for the upcoming tournament.
While the exclusion of Chahal came as a surprise, chief selector Ajit Agarkar explained that the composition of the side mandated only one wrist-spinner and hence, both Jadeja and Axar Patel were included as they could provide batting depth as well.
Chahal has not had the best of years as far as his ODI numbers are concerned, while Axar has been quite regular across all formats for India.
We take a look at three reasons why Axar Patel getting preference over Yuzvendra Chahal for Asia Cup 2023 is the right move:
#3 Better defensive bowler
In the IPL and for India, Axar Patel has shown the ability to be a really good defensive bowler who can bowl in different phases of the innings. He is equally adept at bowling in the powerplay as he is in the middle overs.
He is an accurate bowler and is quite the threat when the pitch offers assistance to the spinners. Axar is one of the most economical bowlers in the IPL and this is where he ranks above Yuzvendra Chahal as a better package in limited-overs cricket.
#2 Left-hander in the middle order
Axar Patel doesn’t just provide the team with the left-arm spin prowess of unwavering precision and command, reminiscent of Ravindra Jadeja’s style, but also gives the side a chance to deploy him higher in the batting lineup, strategically addressing particular match-up situations with his left-handed advantage.
Rohit emphasized that Axar embodies the type of cricketer he wants and likes to have in his squad – adaptable and receptive to assuming different roles based on the demands of the game. This attribute is crucial in the context of how flexible the side is as they build up to the World Cup slated to be held later this year.
#1 Batting depth
Although Chahal’s form was steady, Axar Patel pipped him owing to his batting skills. One of the big issues for India in limited-overs cricket has been the depth in their batting order. It is infuriating for the management since none of the top-order batters can offer few overs with the ball and none of the bowlers are decent with the bat.
This is where players like Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur provide the much-needed balance to the side. Axar has evolved as a proper batter in the lower order and if the pitches on offer are low and slow, he can be a potent option – both with the bat and ball.
“We wanted someone who can bat at 8 or 9. Axar has had a good run in white ball with the bat this year. With him there, he gives us depth, and then he is a left-handed batter,” Rohit Sharma said about the all-rounder.