Why Axar Patel Came Ahead Of Virat Kohli In 2nd Innings? Cheteshwar Pujara Explains
The Indian team management's decision to send Axar Patel ahead of Virat Kohli in 2nd innings of 2nd Test against Bangladesh left some former cricketers unimpressed. Cheteshwar Pujara, however, wasn't surprised by the decision.
The Indian batting unit looked quite fickle facing Bangladesh's spin attack in the 2nd match of the series on Sunday. Chasing a paltry total of 145 runs, India lost as many as 7 wickets in the chase, with stalwarts like KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Puajra disappointing. The situation on Day 3 was such that the team management decided to send Axar Patel at No. 4 spot, probably hoping for the left-hander to tackle Bangladesh's spinners who were running riot. The move, however, received plenty of backlash from former Indian cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar and Ajay Jadeja.
Seeing Axar walk in to bat at no. 4, Gavaskar and Jadeja were left baffled, suggesting such a move would not go down well with Virat Kohli who is arguably the best batter in the world.
"It didn't send a good message to Kohli. He is the best batsman in the world. Unless Kohli himself asked for it, then it's a different matter. We don't know what happened in the changing room. But it's hard to understand. Axar has played well, of course," he said as a commentator on Sony Sports Network.
Jadeja, who was a part of the Hindi commentary team for the series, echoed Gavaskar's sentiments saying, "He is the world's best player. 15 overs were left. Saba Karim said it could have been because of the left-right combination, which is an obvious thought, but then I feel - did Rishabh Pant take a sleeping pill? I will also say that it is easy for us to say this from here; we don't know if someone was not feeling well."
When Jadeja asked Pujara, in a chat for the broadcaster, the India batter gave a straightforward response, calling the move a good one.
"It was a very good move because, among their three strike bowlers, two were left-arm spinners. Axar is a left-hander, so he was sent to tackle them and to have a batter who can bat sensibly in the initial period against the Kookaburra ball. It was a crucial move for us. That was an important phase of the game where we didn't want to lose too many wickets in the evening, and he could have batted cautiously. So I was not surprised. When you are chasing a 145-run total, every run is important, and the way he batted, his innings was very valuable for us," he said.
Pujara on India sending Axar ahead of Kohli pic.twitter.com/xAFrbNirf3— The Game Changer (@TheGame_26) December 25, 2022
Axar indeed played an important knock for the Indian team, scoring 34 runs from 69 balls. He was the second-highest scorer for the Indian team in the innings.