Interview: Axar Patel Only my role in the team has changed, not my style
Axar Patel had the best economy rate (6.13) among the bowlers who played five or more matches in the last IPL (Source: BCCI)
Last year, the Punjab spinners had played a major role in taking the side to the final of the IPL, but this time it looks that it is not going their way. Axar Patel talks to the Indian Express and explains where it is all going wrong for KXIP. Excerpts
Q. Last season was a successful one for you as you had played a major role in taking Kings XI to the final. But this time it seems not to be going your way. What could have been the reason? Is it due to the changes that you have brought to your bowling?
I won’t agree that my bowling has changed. When I was playing last year, no one knew me and my role was normal and easy. But now people know me and I am playing the role of a leader. Last year, I was bowling in the middle overs and now I have to bowl as and when the team needs me, which is to say that bowling in death overs and also in the first six. And when I am bowling in the death overs I am aware that my economy will go up, but yes I am taking wickets also. But once the team’s morale is down every one starts to think that there has been a change in my style.
Q. Last year you and Karanveer Singh were bowling in tandem. But this time with Karanveer not so effective, do you think you are getting enough support from the other end? Is it also affecting your bowling?
Yes I feel that could be one reason because we are not able to bowl in tandem, meaning that if I bowl a good over then the other bowler is not able to sustain the same discipline. Like in the first six overs, Sandeep Sharma and Anureet Singh are bowling well and we are not able to follow it up as spinners. So it could be a major reason you noticing a change in my bowling.
Q. These days you are bowling a lot quicker in the air with a sidearm action and going far too wide in the crease. For someone known to bowl with a high-arm action and mixing it up, making it difficult for batsmen, is this pressure that has forced you to bring about this change?
Obviously the wickets are very flat and that is one thing that is consistently on the mind. I usually beat a batsman with my quicker delivery and on the contrary I don’t think to bowl slow to trouble him because if I try to do what actually is not my style, I will be in trouble and the team will suffer as well. So I just rely on my strength and if my strength is not slow bowling then there are more chances of leaking runs.
Q. You have bowled in ODIs and your bowling speed kept varying between 80-90 kmph. But now you are trying to bowl a lot quicker. Don’t you think you are giving the batsmen an advantage to hit you because he can now use the pace. Don’t you think you should rather stick to orthodox spin?
Yes I am trying to mix it up so that a batsman stays in two minds. But when you are bowling in the death overs, you can get hit. So, keeping that in mind, I keep varying my bowling.
Q. How do you prepare mentally? Now that you are leading the spin department, do you think it is putting you under more pressure?
There is pressure now that I am the main bowler and it is difficult not to think of it any differently. But I just prepare myself to bowl to my strength and at the end a good ball is a good ball for any batsman.
Q. Last year you also bowled with a new ball. What do you think is better, bowling in the death overs or bowling with a new ball?
When I bowl tight there is pressure on the opponent team. But now my role has changed. I have to bowl when the coach and captain demand my services.
Q. Which is your stock ball, left-arm spin or armer?
I consider armer to be my stock ball.
Q. Are you seeking help of any former India left-arm spinner to improve your bowling?
No, I haven’t spoken to anyone as yet. But when I was in the Indian team, Ravi Shastri, who was a left-arm spinner himself, had asked me to ignore the advice of those who tell me to bowl slow or fast. He told me to keep doing what I was doing. As a left-arm spinner, the catch is how you kill a batsman mentally by bowling a slower one followed by a quicker one and sticking to a plan.
Q. But are you trying to follow up the way you generally bowl in the IPL as well? Are you bowling with a sidearm action so as to bring the ball into the batsman?
Yes in the middle overs. Because in death overs I try to bowl a lot fuller to the batsman and I think that is why I can’t vary my bowling much. I am also bowling a lot sidearm because if you have to dart it in you have to undercut it slightly, but it is only when I am bowling in T20. When I bowl in the nets, I go back to my orthodox bowling because if I have to play Test cricket I will have to bowl quality spin.
Q. On your batting?
I focus a lot on my batting when I go to the nets. T20 is such a format where you don’t get much time to get your eye in. So you get 5-6 balls and you can’t show your talent much. But whenever I get to bat I try to prove myself and my aim is to improve my batting as well.
Q. How big a platform is KXIP for you?
It is definitely a big platform for me as I have played just one year. I never got a chance being in Mumbai Indians, but Punjab has given me everything.
Source:: Indian Express