India completed a thrilling three-wicket win over Bangladesh in the 2nd Test to sign off from the tour with a 2-0 clean sweep. From the depths of 74/7 in chase of 145 in Dhaka, the tourists made an impressive recovery on a turning track with Ravichandran Ashwin (42*) and Shreyas Iyer (29*) producing an excellent fightback to take India over the line.
Before the duo’s winning partnership, it was Axar Patel whose solid effort was vital in holding one end that prevented a complete collapse. Axar made 34 off 69 and was the seventh wicket to fall when he became spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz’s fifth victim.
The allrounder was promoted in the batting order during a tricky phase of the chase when India had just lost Cheteshwar Pujara in the final session of the third day’s play.
Axar batted at no 4 - a place reserved for Virat Kohli. Former India cricketers including Sunil Gavaskar and Ajay Jadeja were surprised with the decision.
The argument that Axar, a lefty, may have been sent to ensure a right hand-left hand batting combination would not allow the bowlers to settle also appeared weak since a much accomplished left-handed batter in Rishabh Pant was still in the dressing room.
Jadeja poked fun at the call while analysing on Sony Sports wondering if Rishabh Pant had taken ‘a sleeping pill’.
On Sunday, after India’s victory, Jadeja posed the query to Pujara asking if he was surprised at seeing Axar walking in to bat after his dismissal.
The 34-year-old defending the decision, explaining why it was crucial at that stage. “Of their three strike bowlers, two are left-arm spinners and so to tackle them, it was a very good move. Against the Kookaburra ball you need someone who can bat sensibly. Axar is a left-hander, and that was an important phase of the game. We didn’t want to lose many wickets in the evening and bat a little responsibly," Pujara said.
He added, “So I wasn’t surprised but it was a crucial move for us - his (Axar’s) contribution, even this morning, the run he made. When you are chasing a 140-145-total, each run becomes important. So the way he batted, his innings proved quite valuable to us."
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