The emergence of a star all-rounder in Axar Patel 

Axar was one of the heroes of India’s famous win in Barbados. (PC:

In the history of sports, fans have witnessed the rise of generational talents who went on to become legends. From the quiet alleyways of Nadiad to rescuing the Indian team in the T20 World Cup final, it’s safe to say we might be witnessing the emergence of another such talent. Lovingly called ‘Bapu’, by teammates, Axar Patel has become a pillar of the Indian team and won hearts with his ‘not non-violent’ performances. 

In the 2024 T20 World Cup final, India, having chosen to bat, had already lost three wickets by the fifth over. With Virat Kohli hanging onto his wicket on one end, in walked Axar. The slender, left-arm orthodox all-rounder had already saved the team on a few occasions. While he may not have looked too dangerous, little did the fans know the impact his performance was about to make. 

Axar was sent in ahead of Shivam Dube to navigate the dangers posed by Kagiso Rabada. At this point, the game was hanging in the balance, more towards the Proteas. It might be difficult to imagine the pressure, standing at the crease, with Rabada running in, but Axar with nerves of steel calmly steered the first delivery. In the last three deliveries of the Powerplay, he took six runs off Aiden Markram. But it was in the eighth over when Axar displayed his might, hitting a slog off Markram which blazed over the boundary for a maximum. Another six came in the next over against Keshav Maharaj. He allowed Kohli to play the anchor’s role. 

Markram’s reply to Axar hitting his bowlers for sixes was to get Tabraiz Shamsi in, but that effort went in vain as the 30-year-old continued his onslaught. Axar’s innings truly marked a turnaround in the match for the Indian team. The odds were no longer in favour of South Africa.

Axar’s contribution did not end there. In the second half it was him who, once again, changed the momentum and bowled a delivery that changed the course of the match. Quinton de Kock and Tristan Stubbs had got going and getting dangerously close to completing the run chase. It was Axar’s delivery that broke the 58-run partnership. The proof of the shift in momentum was written all over De Kock’s face as he stood flummoxed at the non-striker’s end. Sure, another partnership got going between Heinrich Klaasen and De Kock but the damage was done. 

Axar’s journey from humble beginnings in Nadiad in Gujarat to the global stage was complete — from someone who wasn’t even passionate about bowling, to being the game-changer for India in a World Cup final.

This journey has been nothing short of incredible. In ‘Bapu’, India have found a dependable middle-order batter, who no matter what, will bring out his best to pull the team out of a rut. In ‘Jayasuriya’, as called by Rishabh Pant from behind the stumps, India have found a steadfast bowler who knows what he is doing, someone who can be trusted to break a growing partnership in the middle overs. There was a time in Indian cricket when fans were worried about not having a quality all-rounder. Axar has done well to shatter those concerns.