In the second and final Test of the series on Sunday, the Indian batting lineup looked very unstable against Bangladesh’s spin assault. India struggled mightily in the chase of a meagre 145 runs, losing as many as seven wickets, despite the presence of veterans like KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, and Cheteshwar Pujara.
On the third day, the Indian management was forced to send Axar Patel at No. 4, ahead of Kohli, Rishabh Pant, and even Shreyas Iyer after the wickets tumbled. While many experts questioned team India’s move, especially Sunil Gavaskar and Ajay Jadeja, a few guessed the move came in the hopes that the left-hander would take on Bangladesh’s rampaging spinners.
But after India won the game by three wickets, Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara answered all the questions and cleared the air around the topic, as he revealed why Axar was sent ahead at No. 4. When Jadeja asked Pujara about the move during a chat after the game on Sony Sports Network, the veteran said:
“It was a very good move because, among their three strike bowlers, two were left-arm spinners. Axar is a left-hander, so he was sent to tackle them and to have a batter who can bat sensibly in the initial period against the Kookaburra ball. It was a crucial move for us. That was an important phase of the game where we didn’t want to lose too many wickets in the evening, and he could have batted cautiously. So I was not surprised. When you are chasing a 145-run total, every run is important, and the way he batted, his innings was very valuable for us.”