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Ajaz Patel refuses to be just a back-up option

The much-anticipated Test series between India and New Zealand, which starts on Friday at the picturesque Basin Reserve, has already been branded as the battle between the two world-class pace bowling attacks. Since the pitches in this part of the world are tailor-made for swing and seam bowlers, very few people see a role for spinners in this series, especially from the home team.

Ajaz Patel, the 31-year old Central Districts left-arm spinner is the only specialist slow bowling option in New Zealand’s 13-member Test squad. He first came into the limelight with a seven-wicket haul in his debut Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi which helped his team to win a historic series down there. However, the conditions over here in Wellington are a complete contrast as two days before the start of the Test match there is significant amount of grass cover on the surface and the weather is expected to be windy and wet for the major part of the game.

Hence, for obvious reasons many people do not see a place for Patel in the Blackcaps’ first-choice XI for first Test. But if he does make the cut, the southpaw is well aware of the role he is expected to perform.

“Obviously it’s home conditions. I have played a lot of cricket here [in Wellington] and I have been quite successful at the First-Class cricket. I understand that international cricket is a different beast and the players and opposition we are up against are some of the best in the world in playing spin. So for me it is all about keeping the game simple and doing what I do well and keeping to my strengths. I am just gonna try and apply some decent pressure and take a few wickets,” Patel told exclusively to

Having followed the bowling of Daniel Vettori, Rangana Herath and Ravindra Jadeja; quite closely, Patel knows that on these conditions just supporting the pace bowlers is not his only role, he himself needs to attack from the other end as well, much like what Keshav Maharaj did for South Africa during his match-winning spell of 6 for 40 at the Basin Reserve back in 2017.

“Well, [supporting the seamers] that’s a part of it but at the same time I want to try and take wickets from one end as well and if I can do that it will also apply a lot of pressure on the batting side. But by no means I am gonna carried away and overly attacking but at the same time I am gonna looking to take wickets,” Patel said.

Furthermore, going forward if the pitches permit the Mumbai-born cricketer, who has 22 scalps from seven Test matches so far, does see a role for the spinners in the series.

“It depends on what kind of the surface we turn up on. If the surface is rough we can get a little bit out of it and if not than we have to bowl differently. I guess it all depends on the conditions and adjust accordingly.”


Sandipan Banerjee is a senior cricket journalist with experience stretching across more than a decade. Having founded a number of cricket information resources and prior experience of working in big-ticket events like ICC Cricket World Cup, IPL and ICC Champions’ Trophy; he joined the team at in 2019 to provide strategic guidance and to assume a brand ambassador role as principal correspondent. Due to Sandipan’s commitment towards the game, it’s safe to assume that if India are involved in a Test, ODI or a T20I, he’ll be there covering the match! Partnership

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