Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting has observed Axar Patel from close quarters while working as the head coach for the Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League. Ponting revealed that he made a few changes in the batting stance of the left-hander, which helped him handle the short ball against the fast bowlers.
The left-hander was at his meticulous best in the recently concluded Border-Gavaskar series as he scored three half-centuries. Patel scored 84 runs in the first Test match at Nagpur and added a fine alliance with Ravindra Jadeja.
The left-hander then bailed India out of trouble in the first innings at Delhi as he scored 74 runs and added 114 runs with Ravichandran Ashwin to push India’s score to 262 after the hosts were 139-7 at one stage.
The southpaw from Gujarat also scored another fine knock of 79 runs in the fourth Test match at his home ground Ahmedabad. Patel scored 264 runs in five innings at an average of 88 in the series against Australia and thus made invaluable contributions while batting down the order.
Speaking on ICC review, “I’ve known Axar for a long time and he was only a young boy in the squad at Mumbai when I first went there,” Ponting said.
“I’ve known that there’s been a certain amount of batting skill there that really, apart from the last couple of years, he hadn’t really been showing at IPL level or even at international level.
“There were a few little technique changes that we made with him. We just opened up his hips and his shoulders a little bit. So he was a bit more chest-on towards the right-arm fast bowlers.“
Ponting revealed how he and the Delhi Capitals’ think tank helped Patel in strengthening his game against short-pitched bowling.
“If there was ever a weakness in his game, it was the short ball that was sort of directed at his body. The reason that he was a bit weak in that area was he was too side-on, and the ball was always sort of in behind his right shoulder,” Ponting noted.
“We just tried to open him up a little bit, which gave him a little bit more access to the ball. He’s always been a beautiful offside player. You know, his cover driving and cutting is as good as anyone’s. And if anything, he was just a little bit too blocked off to be able to score well on the leg side.
“We tweaked a few things there and because he’s such a good young person to work with, and he’s obviously very talented, so therefore he was a fast learner and was able to pick things up really quickly and change his technique enough to show really, really good improvement really early on.”
Patel will be in action in the three-match ODI series against Australia, starting Friday in Mumbai.