Indian spinner Axar Patel revealed that the English batters don't read spinners from the hand, and in doubt, start sweeping irrespective of the ball spinning or not. On losing out his limited-overs place to Ravindra Jadeja, he said that it was hard to get in for any left-arm spinner.
England's struggles against spin are well documented. However, they had done extremely well to start off the year with a series win in Sri Lanka. Even in India, they won the opening Test but after that they were beaten black and blue by the hosts as England weren't up to the mark on some challenging spin wickets, thereby failing to even make it to the finale of the World Test Championship.
One of the most crucial aspects of doing well against spinners is to pick them from the hand as it gives more time to a batsman in comparison to reading them from the pitch. Recalling the home Test series win over England, Axar Patel, who took 27 wickets in the series, revealed that the English batters don't read spinners from the hand and just blindly go for sweeps to counter spin.
"If they are in doubt whether it’s spinning or not, they just play sweeps and reverse-sweeps. If one bowls stump-to-stump, then it gets tough for them but if the ball is pitched outside off-stump or leg-stump they go for the sweep. They don’t read the ball from my hand, instead, they go by where it’s pitched," Axar told Indian Express.
Axar Patel has been doing well in the IPL over the years. But, he hasn't been a regular part of the side in limited-overs cricket. However, he did make his comeback in the home T20Is against England in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja. With Jadeja, in the mix of things, it's hard for any other left-arm spinner to make it to the side across formats. Reflecting on his earlier white-ball stint, Axar said that he wasn't lacking anything but Jadeja was great and it didn't leave room for any other left-arm spinner in the side.
"I don’t feel I was lacking anything. Unfortunately, I was injured and lost my place in the ODIs. In Tests, [Ravindra] Jadeja and [Ravichandran] Ashwin were doing well. The way Jadeja was performing, it was very hard for any other left-arm spin all-rounder to find a place. The wrist spinners – Kuldeep (Yadav) and (Yuzvendra) Chahal – were doing well. It was due to the team combination that I was out. When I got a chance, I just tried to prove myself."
One of the most challenging aspects of cricket, these days, remains to adapt to bio-bubbles. The left-arm spinner feels that the bubble life is tough but doesn't have much impact on the Indian players given they are used to staying inside hotels.
"It is very tough. It depends on how one trains his mind. I feel there is not much effect of bio-bubble for Indian players. Indian players are used to staying inside the hotel. Abroad, there are hardly any crowds. Everyone is aware of what has been happening for the last year. Team activities have increased, we can play Playstation, TT. The bubble is tough but it’s better not to talk about it, instead keep the focus on cricket."