IND v NZ: The track is slowing down a bit, says Axar Patel


Mumbai, Dec 5 : Though India have left New Zealand with a mountain to climb on the next two days with only five wickets in hand in the second and final Test, left-arm spinner Axar Patel said the bowlers will have to show lot of patience as the pitch has slowed down considerably, and wickets could be possible only if the baters make mistakes. India closed in on a memorable win on Sunday, the third day of the Test, by reducing New Zealand to 140/5 in 45 overs, the visitors still needing 400 runs to save the match with only five wickets in hand on the third day of the match at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday. Henry Nicholls (36 not out) and Rachin Ravindra (2 not out) were at the crease at stumps and will resume New Zealand's attempts to save the Test on the fourth day. Axar Patel said things could turn difficult for India on the fourth day but felt the Indian bowlers have a lot of experience of such situations. "Two days back, due to the underlying moisture, the ball was turning fast and as time is progressing, the track is slowing down a bit, so today, even when there was turn, the batter had enough time to go on the back-foot and negotiate it. Only if the batter is making mistakes, then it's a bit difficult for him. We have been in umpteen situations like these and we know what needs to be done in these circumstances. It won't always be the case that batters will get out quickly so one needs to have patience," Patel said during post-match virtual press conference here on Sunday. New Zealand's Daryl Mitchell proved Patel right as he scored a valiant half-century to boost his country's score and delay the inevitable. Patel said India did not delay the declaration on Sunday. Despite a handy lead of 263 runs after bowling out New Zealand for a paltry 62 in their first innings, India batted till 30 minutes before tea, scoring 276/5 in their second innings to take an overall lead of 539 runs and set the visitors a mammoth target to chase. "I won't call it a delay as there is so much time left in the game. The idea was to bat as long as possible in this kind of situation, which you don't get every day, so the plan was to make the most of it. We were trying to explore variation options and check out. 'What if we have to chase on this kind of a track on the last day', trying to express ourselves in a different situation," Patel explained. Patel, who blazed to 41 off 26 deliveries as he helped India push for a big lead, said the team management have enough confidence to allow him to explore his potential as an allrounder. "The batting coach (Vikram Rathour) and team management have faith in my batting abilities, and they have always told me that 'You can do it'. Just that earlier, when I got chances, I couldn't convert my starts. But this time when I got the chance, I was able to convert. My batting is benefitting my team and if you see that myself, Jaddu and Ash bhai play as all-rounders, it releases a bit of pressure on our batters, so it's a good sign. As long as I keep contributing it's good for both me and my team," he said. Asked whether they have any special plans for Rachin Ravindra, who had denied them victory in the first Test at Kanpur by holding fort for nearly 10 overs with last man Ajaz Patel, Axar said they will plan something and that unlike Kanpur, they have a lot of time on their hands. "Obviously, no special plan (as of now). The pitch that we, is giving lot more assistance. After talking to the bowling coach, we will have plans for him. Last time in Kanpur we had less time to get him but this time, we have a lot of time," he said. /IANS


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