Made few technique changes to Axar's batting which he picked up really quickly, reveals Ricky Ponting

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Ricky Ponting has revealed himself as one of the secret sauces behind Axar Patel's meteoric batting rise at the international level in recent times capped off by a remarkable Border Gavaskar Trophy. The Delhi Capitals coach discussed the all-rounder's pedigree and his response to feedback.

Axar Patel cemented himself as a talent for the ages at the recently concluded Border Gavaskar Trophy where he emerged as the third-highest run-getter, only behind prolific Australian opener Usman Khawaja and Indian talisman Virat Kohli. The all-rounder played three crucial knocks throughout the series, starting off with an 84 in Nagpur to take India from 240/7 to 400, helping establish a match-winning 200-plus run lead. The 29-year-old followed up the knock with a 74 in Delhi, again rescuing the Men in Blue from a precarious 135/6 to nearly level the visitors' score of 263, and then made merry on a flat deck in Ahmedabad with a dazzling 79 in India's mammoth total of 571.

The series capped off a remarkable turnaround in the youngster's batting fortunes, who went from averaging 13.83 across all forms of international cricket until 2018 to scoring over 30 from 2021 onwards. In fact, Axar averages 68.83 from 10 innings for India in 2023, having already registered four half-centuries. Australian legend Ricky Ponting recently revealed the secret behind Axar's rise, citing his improvements during his time at the Delhi Capitals in the IPL where Ponting is the head coach. The veteran had also had the chance to tutor Axar in 2014 when the youngster was a fringe member of Mumbai Indians' squad under Ponting's leadership.

"I've known Axar for a long time and he was only a young boy in the squad at Mumbai when I first went there. I've known that there's been a certain amount of batting skill there that really, apart from the last couple of years, he hadn't really been showing at the IPL level or even at the international level. There were a few little technique changes that we made with him. We just opened up his hips and his shoulders a little bit. So he was a bit more chest-on towards the right-arm fast bowlers,“ Ponting said.

“If there was ever a weakness in his game, it was the short ball that was sort of directed at his body. The reason that he was a bit weak in that area was he was too side-on, and the ball was always sort of in behind his right shoulder. We just tried to open him up a little bit, which gave him a little bit more access to the ball. He's always been a beautiful offside player. His cover driving and cutting are as good as anyone. And if anything, he was just a little bit too blocked off to be able to score well on the leg side," he added.

Axar also became the fastest Indian to 50 wickets by balls bowled in Test cricket, further highlighting his incredible potential. Ponting touted the Gujarat all-rounder to be promoted from his usual number eight or nine spots up to number six.

"We tweaked a few things there and because he's such a good young person to work with, and he's obviously very talented, so, therefore, he was a fast learner and was able to pick things up really quickly and change his technique enough to show really, really good improvement really early on. The higher he bats in first-class cricket, and if he plays some more Test cricket even outside of India, then I think he could hold down a six or seven spot in a Test team as well," Ponting concluded.

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