Apart from India captain Rohit Sharma's unbeaten 20-ball 46 guiding India to a series-levelling six wicket win over Australia in eight overs a side affair at Nagpur, left-arm spinner Axar Patel's brilliant spell was very crucial in giving the hosts an early upper hand.
Patel's two overs, one of which was bowled in the powerplay, went for only 13 runs. He kept things tight while ratting the stumps of Glenn Maxwell and Tim David and also bowled four dot balls to Matthew Wade, who had two unsuccessful tries at reverse sweeping him before getting a boundary on third attempt.
"We were waiting in the dressing room for a long time. But even then, we were discussing plans and talking about the game being a small one (in terms of overs), and remaining switched on for the match. When you know it is a shortened game, the batters will be after the bowlers on every ball," said Patel to leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal in a video posted by BCCI on their official website.
Patel went on to explain his thought process when the match was reduced to eight overs a side. "I try to keep things simple and don't think about where the batter would try to hit me. So as a bowler, it was very important for me to be brave and stick to my line and length as well as to my strengths with the ball."
"But in that process if the batter does get a few runs, it is fine and try not to move away from your plans. Even good deliveries go for boundaries, but my plan was to keep it tight, stump to stump, make some changes in field placements and not giving the batter any sort of room, which helped in getting wickets."
Coming into the Indian team as a like-for-like replacement for an injured Ravindra Jadeja, Patel has been impactful with his bowling spells in both matches against Australia. In Mohali, where every bowler was going for plenty, Patel kept things tight with his deadly spell of 3/17 bringing India back in the match, ensuring that the side doesn't miss Jadeja in the bowling department.
"We spinners keep talking in meeting and do the planning. I think in Mohali, I knew the conditions well, having played for Kings XI Punjab and knew what type of balls would work well. Before I bowled my first ball that day, the fact that we batted first, we were aware of how the pitch behaved, with no real help for the bowlers."
"Our plan was to just bowl wicket-to-wicket given how there was very little on the pitch for the bowlers. As the game progressed, I would see how the batters were trying to get some shots. On seeing that, I would wary my line and length. I did see that they were trying to sweep against me and I bowled the yorker. Luckily, all of this happened as the planning worked," concluded Patel.
With Friday's match won by India, the three-match series is now level at 1-1 with the series decider against Australia to be played in Hyderabad on Sunday.