IPL 2024: Axar Patel’s promotion to number three was for countering R Sai Kishore, says DC coach Amre

New Delhi: Wednesday’s match against Gujarat Titans was just the third time Axar Patel batted at number three in T20 cricket, something which no one saw it coming. On his part, Axar made his promotion to number three count by hitting five fours and four sixes in his eye-catchy knock of 66 off 43 balls. It was also his highest IPL score, coming at a strike-rate of 153.49.

Axar, who was exquisite in his slog-sweeps and smash through covers against spinners, was also a handy partner in the match-winning 113-run stand with Rishabh Pant for the fourth wicket. Such was the effect of Axar and Pant nullifying GT spinners that left-arm spinner R. Sai Kishore couldn’t bowl until the 19th over came, due to the match-up of him against two left-handed batters.

After DC prevailed over GT by four runs in a thrilling run-fest, assistant coach Pravin Amre said the decision to promote Axar, who took three catches and returned with figures of 1-28, was done mainly to counter Kishore in the power-play.

“Last year, he was the one who was striking the ball well. To be honest, if you see in whatever opportunities he got this year, he was (coming out to bat) in last four or five overs. It wasn’t fair and that was the whole idea – to give him some chance. Also, they had the plan of bowling Sai Kishore in the power-play and the reasoning of Indian batters taking him on meant he came to bowl only in the 19th over.”

“So, Axar played his role very well and more importantly, the partnership he had with Rishabh of 113 runs – it came after we struggled in power-play, where we lost a few wickets. But the maturity shown by Axar there was very important and that was a reason behind us getting 97 runs in last five overs,” said Amre in the post-match press conference.

Axar’s promotion to three meant Abishek Porel became the designated finisher for Wednesday’s game, where his services weren’t needed as DC managed to post a mammoth 224/4.

“Porel started well from the nine-ball 30 he got against Punjab in the opening game. He was striking the ball well, but for us it is about all six batters going well. In that case, Axar did not have a big knock so far. Plus, we were also confident that Porel can bat at the top of the order and in the middle as well. So we wanted to give him the role of finisher here along with Stubbs,” added Amre.

Kishore too felt the 113-run stand between Axar and Pant along with GT conceding 53 runs in the last two overs of DC innings was where the match tilted in favour of the hosts’. “Sandy bowled really well and got us into the game in power-play. Honestly, after that, Axar and Pant batted really well.”

“Rishabh especially scored lots of boundaries on good balls – not necessarily sixes, but many of them were fours. They got the momentum and we conceded more sixes than fours in the last two-three overs – that resulted in the game going slightly out of our hands.”

GT almost came close to chasing down 225, but fell four runs short and Kishore, who hit consecutive sixes off Rasikh Salam in the 19th over, believes his team, now at seventh place in points table, are still confident of making a late case for entering the playoffs.

“If we had won, it could have been a morale-boosting thing and put us in a very commanding position. The best part about this team is the belief everyone carries. Everyone believed in the dugout that we can pull this off – this is what the side has been built on.”

“Everyone in the group would believe that no matter what the situation is, though I don’t know the exact scenario of qualification, but we have the belief of doing it. A lot of these things are out of control and try to make sure that how we are playing is taken care of. Rest of the things will follow, just try to get better and be emotionally detached from the result.”


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