Team India bounced back in a commanding fashion on Day three of the first Test match against New Zealand in Kanpur courtesy of a five-wicket haul from Axar Patel. The left-arm spinner wreaked havoc to derail the batting unit to the Kiwis and record his fifth five-wicket haul in four Test matches.
With figures of five wickets for 62 runs in the first innings, Axar helped India crawl their way back into the Test match after a formidable opening stand of 151 runs between Tom Latham and Will Young.
"Whenever I have played first-class or India A, I have done well. I have never seen myself as a white-ball specialist, "he said in a press conference post the end of day's play.
It's all in my mindset as to what you perceive yourself as a white-ball specialist or red ball specialist. I always had the belief that whenever I get a chance, I would do well. Obviously, I give credit to team members for having faith in me, and I have been able to stand up to their expectations," he further added.
The Indian team opted for a three-member spin attack on the sluggish Kanpur wicket. With the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the playing XI, Axar focuses on the process and plans according to the situation. "Whenever I go to the ground, I try and enjoy and not think about whether Ashwin bhai and Jaddu are there. When I have the ball in my hand, I just try and see to it that I am enjoying my bowling, trying to read the wicket and understand what's happening, how it's behaving and plan accordingly," he said.
One of the striking features in Axar's bowling was his ability to use the crease on Day 2. Axar made subtle changes while bowling on Saturday compared to his first spell on the second day, and the key was to play with varied angles, mixing the pace of his deliveries.
Sharing insights on the changes he incorporated on Saturday, he said, "I used the crease much more today, and I didn't use the crease a lot in the ten overs that I bowled yesterday. I was using the crease by going wide and coming near the stumps, creating various angles, and that helped me get a lot of purchase.
Axar assessed that the pitch isn't as difficult as it may seem as only the odd ball is turning or keeping low but at the same time reminded that patience will be the key.
"Our batters were present at the ground, and they also have a fair idea. We were discussing that cracks haven't opened much and only the odd ball is doing a bit; if you play the ball on its merit, there won't be much trouble," he said.
"There isn't any uneven bounce as such. An odd ball is either turning or keeping low. If they start bowling a disciplined line and keep patience, then only our batters can face some trouble. I will advise our batters to keep patience and put the bad balls away," he further added.
With the Indian team struggling to break the opening stand for 67 overs, the 27-year old credited the calming influence of Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Dravid during this challenging period.
"Obviously, if you don't get a wicket for 67 overs, it's tough, but dressing room was calm as Ajju bhai and Rahul sir kept a calm environment. They said we have to keep patience because if we get one, we will get a few more, and then we can make inroads. We got the reward for our persistence in the first and second session," he signed off.
(With inputs from PTI)