IND vs SL 2022-23: India came up short by 16 runs in the second Pune T20I against Sri Lanka on Thursday. Meanwhile, head coach Rahul Dravid praised Axar Patel for his all-round performance.
Indian head coach Rahul Dravid is happy with how the spin-bowling all-rounder’s department is shaping up, saying, “our stocks are pretty good at the moment.” Dravid also indicated that Ravindra Jadeja could be in the mix very soon, putting India in happy space vis-a-vis the spin all-rounder’s department.
“I think in our spin bowling all-rounder’s slot. Our stocks are pretty good at the moment. Shahbaz [Ahmed] was also part of the squad, considering that Washington [Sundar] was there. Then Jadeja as well, so we are happy with that,” Dravid said at the post-match press conference after India’s 16-run loss in the second T20I against Sri Lanka in Pune on Thursday.
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With Axar playing his role to perfection on Thursday, taking two wickets in an economical spell and scoring a swashbuckling 65 off just 31 deliveries, the coach said it had given him quite a few options area. “I think in T20 cricket, whenever he has got the opportunity, he’s done well, so, that’s a good sign for us, people like him, people like Washi not getting a game, he’s batting well, and Jadeja coming back [soon] as well gives us nice little [options] in that spin-bowling all-rounder area.”
With Axar trading more in sixes than fours, Dravid also commended the all-rounder’s batting. Axar smashed six maximums and three boundaries and scored at a strike rate of nearly 210 to keep India in the game until he was at the crease. “He is certainly doing a perfect job, and his batting is coming on [in] leaps and bounds. We always knew his quality with the ball, and it was just about developing his batting. He is working hard on it. Honestly, we had identified him more than a year (ago),” he considered.
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“It’s [batting] an area of his game that we have identified, we know that we need to have that and whatever opportunities Axar has got, especially with Jadeja missing quite a lot of cricket, he hasn’t let us down in Test cricket, ODIs, whether it’s been here,” added Dravid.
After setting a target of 207 for India to win the second T20I here on Thursday, Sri Lanka restricted Hardik Pandya’s side to 190 to take the series to the decider at Rajkot on Saturday. In the fast-bowling all-rounder’s department, with Shivam Mavi proving to be an ideal foil for skipper Pandya, Dravid said, it had “brought a smile” on his face.
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The young pace bowler scored a quick-fire 26 at the back end, giving the coach hope that he could be relied upon as a pinch-hitter in the closing overs. “In the fast-bowling all-rounder area, we rely heavily on Hardik, looking around for other people to step up and maybe do the job for us. And it was nice to see Mavi bat today [Thursday], which brings a smile to your face. I mean, you can see one of you fast bowlers being able to bat like that,” concluded Dravid.
(With inputs from PTI)