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T20 World Cup: ‘Plan was to force them to think of playing some other shots’, reveals Axar

Georgetown (Guyana), June 28 2024-

India all-rounder Axar Patel, who bowled an exuberant 3-23 spell in India’s 68-run win over England in the second semifinal of the T20 World Cup, revealed that his plan was to make it difficult for the opponent, forcing them to think of playing some other shots, without doing anything extraordinary.

Captain Rohit Sharma’s 57 from 39 balls coupled with Suryakumar Yadav’s 47 from 36 allowed India to post 171/7 in 20 overs after being invited to bat first. In response, Axar and Kuldeep Yadav spun the web on England’s batters and bundled them for 103 in 16.4 overs with both taking three wickets each.

The most significant blow came from Axar, who removed the England captain with his opening delivery. He then went on to dismiss Jonny Bairstow and Moeen with the first delivery of his second and third overs, respectively, before Kuldeep claimed three wickets of his own to completely derail England’s chase.

“I hadn’t really planned to get a wicket on the first ball. My mindset was to put the ball in the right areas. Obviously, when you play knockouts, you want to start and finish well with the first and last ball. The plan in the powerplay was the usual. It’s tough to bowl in the powerplay, but when you know that you are getting help from the wicket, then without thinking much, without doing anything extraordinary, I thought that the more I keep it simple, the easier it would be for me,” said Axar in the post-match presser.

“We spoke about it in the dressing room that it’s not an easy wicket (for batting), and I knew that the batsman will charge at me. It wasn’t going to be easy to hit me down the ground and hitting off the back foot wasn’t easy either because the ball wasn’t coming on the bat nicely. My plan was to make it difficult for them, force them to think of playing some other shots, and, that’s what happened on the first ball,” he added.

The all-rounder highlighted that he was confident of India’s bowling to defend the target after setting above par total and lauded Rohit’s hitting prowess on a slow wicket.

“I think we knew we could defend 170, it was a par score. The way the wicket was behaving, and Rohit bhai said after he finished batting that it was very difficult to hit big shots because the odd ball was spinning, staying low, skidding as well. We thought that 150-160 was also a very good score which we could have defended. So, when we made 170, we knew that we had 10-15 runs extra,” he said.

Axar said England faltered against spinners due to the pressure while trying to play aggressive cricket in the powerplay. “It’s also about pressure. When you are chasing, and you know that the wicket is helping the bowlers in that pressure. So, as an opener, or anyone in the top four, they must be thinking of cashing in on the powerplay as much as possible. I’m guessing that’s what they were thinking, but it didn’t work out,” said the 30-year-old.

“I think it was difficult to hit big shots as well as the sweeps and reverse sweep because some balls were keeping low on this pitch so it wasn’t easy to connect. It creates a doubt in the batsman’s mind that if he sweeps and the ball keeps low, he’ll get hit on the pad. So it depends on what line and length you bowl. Mostly our spinners kept it stump to stump so it was very difficult to execute the sweeps and reverse sweeps,” the all-rounder concluded.

India will now lock horns with South Africa in the title clash in Barbados on Saturday, June 29. (Agency)

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