Gone are the days when India and Australia cricketers used to stare at each other, dazzle and drag each other. The just-concluded Border-Gavaskar trophy series was one of the friendliest ever and there were smiles and hugs all around.
A classic example of the IPL helping a cricketer become a better batsman is Axar Patel.
Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting revealed on Tuesday the “small technical changes” made while playing for Capitals of Delhi helped Axar become an effective hitter for India.
Ponting hopes to “get a little more out of himself” when he features for the Delhi Capitals in this IPL.
Axar (264 runs) impressed in the Border-Gavaskar Test series against Australia, snapping three half centuries to become India’s second highest scorer behind Virat Kohli (297 runs) in five innings.
“I knew Axar for a long time and he was just a young lad in the Mumbai team when I first went there,” Ponting told the ICC review.
“I knew there was a certain batting skill there that, other than the last two years, hadn’t really shown at the IPL level or even at the international level.
“There were a few small technical changes we made with him. We just opened up his hips and shoulders a bit, so he was a little more chesty towards the fast right-arm bowlers.”
The 29-year-old versatile bowler didn’t make his IPL debut for MI in 2013. He blossomed during his five-year stint at Kings XI Punjab and became one of the top ball performers white with a good show for the Delhi Capitals over the past four seasons.
Ponting, who is the Delhi Capitals coach, said Axar used to struggle with the short ball early in his career.
“If there was ever a weakness in his game, it was the short ball that was kind of aimed at his body. The reason he was a bit weak in that area was because he was too lateral, and the ball was still sorted behind his right shoulder,” Ponting said.
“We just tried to open him up a bit, which gave him a bit more access to the ball. He’s always been a good offside player. You know, his driving and his covering cut are also good as anyone. And if anything, he was just a little too blocked to score well on the leg side.
“We tweaked a few things there and because he’s such a good youngster to work with, and he’s obviously very talented, so he was a quick learner and was able to pick things up very quickly and change his technique enough to show really, really good improvement early on.”
“I want to get some more out of him in DC this year”
Impressed with his stick, Ponting wants to promote Axar a little higher up the order to get the most out of him in this IPL.
“I want to get some more out of him at the Delhi Capitals this year for sure,” Ponting said.
“A few times last year we kind of beat him a little higher. I think he’s good enough to probably beat No. 6 in an IPL team.”
Ponting also believes Axar is capable of hitting at No. 6 or No. 7 for India in the longest format.
“He’s also good enough to beat at six or seven in a Test match squad,” he said.
“The higher he beats in first class cricket, and if he plays more Test cricket even outside India, then I think he could also hold a six or seven place in a Test team .
“He’s the kind of player who I think could make a lot of hundreds of first-class players. That’s where it has to start for him, maybe getting some support in his state team and maybe to improve the order a little there.”
(With PTI inputs)