Ashish Nehra has remarked that India captain Rishabh Pant should have brought Axar Patel earlier during the second T20I against Heinrich Klaasen, who was struggling initially at the crease. Notably, Axar had bowled the 12th over of the South African innings and conceded 19 runs off his only over.
Rishabh Pant has been heavily criticised for his decisions in the first two T20I matches against South Africa. Under his captaincy, India have lost on both occasions, with the latest coming in Cuttack on June 12. There, they could only post 148/6 after Temba Bavuma won the toss and asked them to bat. South Africa, in response, rode on Heinrich Klaasen's entertaining 46-ball 81, which included seven fours and five sixes, to get the job done with four wickets and 10 balls to spare.
During the second T20I, Pant was lauded for allowing Bhuvneshwar Kumar to bowl three overs in the Powerplay. Bhuvneshwar took three wickets during that phase, and ended with another, returning impressive figures of 4-0-13-4. However, on a track where the batsmen were struggling to time because of the slowness of the pitch, Pant did not bring in Axar Patel in the first half of the South African innings. This move was heavily criticised, and Ashish Nehra, the head coach of Gujarat Titans (GT) echoed as well.
Notably, Axar came into the attack in the 12th over of South Africa's innings and got smacked, conceding 19 runs. He was not re-introduced any further. Nehra believes if Axar came to bowl against Klaasen initially when the batsman was struggling, the result could have been different.
"Changes to the playing XI depend on the conditions in Vizag. Rishabh Pant also needs to take a look. He held back Axar Patel for so long. There were two right-handed batters at that time. I don't see any reason why Axar Patel was not given an over at that time," Nehra told Cricbuzz.
"Reading the game becomes very important in such situations, especially in this format. Klassen was struggling initially, and he had to change gears. Although he played spin really well today, there was a chance to bring in Axar Patel against him."