Ricky Ponting might be Axar Patel's head coach at the Delhi Capitals (DC) but the duo met for the first time in 2013 when they were part of Mumbai Indians' (MI) maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) winning team. While Axar did not get an opportunity in the XI. Ponting revealed how opening his stance a little bit improved his batting.
"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. 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 the international level," Ponting said in a recent episode of The ICC Review.
"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 further added that Axar used to struggle against short deliveries directed at his body, but he has turned his weakness into his strength.
"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," the Australia great added.
Ponting also reckons Axar is good enough to bat at No. 6 for DC. "I want to get a bit more out of him at the Delhi Capitals this year, that's for sure. A few times last year we sort of batted him up a little bit higher. I think he's good enough to bat No.6 probably in an IPL team," Ponting said.
Axar showed of his prowess with the bat, scoring 264 runs at 88 from five innings, that included as many as three fifties. Only Virat Kohli (297) and Usman Khawaja (333) scored more in the four-match series.