The best part of Yashasvi Jaiswal’s entertaining unbeaten 76 was the manner in which he completely unsettled England’s troika of spinners, India’s left-arm slow bowler Axar Patel reckoned after opening day’s play in the first Test. Riding on Jaiswal’s 70-ball blitz, India closed the opening day at 119 for 1 while replying to England’s first innings total of 246 all out. “We enjoyed the way Yashasvi was batting and he took on the spinners from the very first over. It was very good to unsettle them early,” said Axar in the post-day press conference. Jaiswal hammered debutant England left-arm spinner Tom Hartley for two sixes in the second over of India’s first innings to impose himself on the match.
However, Axar himself played a not insignificant role in India’s charge on the day, plucking the wickets of Jonny Bairstow and Ben Foakes.
The 30-year-old said he was just trying to complement senior partners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
“I have learned a lot from seniors Ash and Jaddu bhai. I was trying to control the game from my end as they were bowling in partnership. They were taking wickets, so, I was not thinking about taking wickets,” he said.
“I know that if you are playing three spinners then one of them will get a lesser number of overs. They were also telling me what was happening on the wicket and what I should do. It is a privilege to bowl with them,” said Axar.
The Gujarat bowler was particularly chuffed about the dismissal of Bairstow after castling him with a gem of a delivery that was bowled from wide of the crease, hitting the stumps with the angle.
“That delivery really came off well. We were talking if it turns from there then it would be great because the odd ball was turning. Bairstow took stance on the fourth wicket to avoid the lbw.” “So, I thought of bowling at the stumps because he did cut a few shots close to the stumps. That was the plan and the one that turned from there was good and you would have seen my celebration,” he added.
In their attempt to negate Indian spinners, the England batters employed reverse sweeps one too many times and Axar said the attacking mindset of rivals exponentiated his chances to take wickets.
“I was talking with the captain that they were playing sweeps and reverse sweeps and we were looking where the reverse sweeps were going. So, we placed the point (fielder) a bit behind.
“We had talked about this in the team meeting and we had a plan for this. It’s good that they wanted to attack and it had a chance of getting them out,” he noted.
Axar said the RGI Stadium pitch did not have any alarming turn and it was a good effort from the Indian bowler’s part to bowl out England for 246.
He hoped that the batters would play longer on the second day and further cement the team’s advantage.
“There is spin but the wicket is slow and we know that we did well to restrict them to 246. We can adjust to it as the ball is getting slow after pitching. Yeah, it is a bit challenging as well for the batters but if you bat well then you can make runs here,” he concluded.
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