India captain Virat Kohli has backed Axar Patel to play international cricket for a long time if he stays fit and improves his all-round skills. Axar, 27, has had a dream start to his Test career, having taken 36 wickets in five matches, including five five-wicket hauls and one ten-wicket haul.
Patel demonstrated his prowess in the two-match series against New Zealand after taking 27 wickets in three matches against England earlier this year. The left-arm spinner took nine wickets in two games against the Black Caps, finishing the series as the third-highest wicket-taker.
During the post-match press conference following India's series win over New Zealand, the 33-year-old Kohli heaped praise on Patel, saying that his all-round prowess adds a lot of value to the team.
“Axar is obviously is an all-rounder cricketer. His skill sets provide a good balance to any team he plays for precisely why he is performing well for so long in T20 cricket and Test too whenever he is given an opportunity. The good thing to see is he is adapting his game according to the need of the format,” Kohli said.
“Which I think is a great sign, if he can keep his fitness levels up, if he can keep working on his game then you know he has a potential to play for a long time and that’s basically the need of the hour in today’s cricket.
“If you can’t keep up your fitness level it becomes more and more difficult. At the moment he is going through a great phase and I wish him all the success. I hope he stays fit and hungry to play for a long time,” he added.
Even though his numbers as a bowler are commendable, Patel hasn't deceived with the bat. He has 179 runs with a top score of 52 against the Kiwis at the Wankhede Stadium earlier this month and has an average of 29.83 after five Tests.
Patel has also played 38 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and 15 Twenty-Twenty-Innings (T20Is) since making his debut in 2014 against Bangladesh in Dhaka. The Delhi Capitals recently retained him for INR 9 crores ahead of the IPL 2022 mega auction.