A Perfect 10! Kiwi Ajaz Patel Spins History On ���home��� Pitch

MUMBAI: Standing at five foot eight, Ajaz Patel now finds himself rubbing shoulders with the giants of the game.

Ten wickets in an innings is a stuff of fantasy that has come true only twice before in the 144-year history of Test cricket. For a statistic-heavy sport that cricket is, it is truly a rarest of rare feat.

The New Zealand left-arm spinner, playing in only his 11th Test at 33, achieved the remarkable landmark when he captured all 10 Indian wickets over the first two days of the Wankhede Test on Friday. What makes it even more incredible is that it has come in a city which he’s unafraid of calling his “home” in every media interaction.

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It’s all the more extraordinary as it has come against Indian batsmen who are arguably the best players of spin bowling in the world, never mind the fact that the match is being played on a rank turner.

Another couple of firsts attached with Patel’s magical exploit is that it’s for the first time a bowler has walked off with all the wickets playing away from home and on the first two days of a Test.

In a way it is a case of life coming a full circle for the Mumbai-born, whose family moved to New Zealand in 1996 in pursuit of better prospects.

“Honestly, it’s surreal and to be able to do that in my career is pretty special. The stars have aligned for me to do it in Mumbai,” said Patel after logging figures of 47.5-12-119-10. “Coming back home to Mumbai, to Wankhede, and producing something like this is quite special. I am grateful to God that he blessed me with such an occasion,” he added.

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Patel was only eight then and his father Yunus was in the refrigeration business while his mother Shahnaz taught at a school near their Jogeshwari residence.

Sport hardly came up for discussion at the dinner table and the priority for the family was to get something under its feet in New Zealand. For starters, the father focused on learning English while the son had to get rid of his heavy accent which his classmates in Auckland failed to pick.

Cricket gradually came by and he started off as a left-arm swing bowler. Even as he worked up the ladder, the competition got stiffer and his diminutive frame didn’t help matters. After missing out on a spot in the Under-19 New Zealand team for the World Cup, he stood at the crossroads.

That’s when he decided to take up spin bowling and learned the art from Dipak Patel, the first player of Indian origin to play for New Zealand, the off-spinner who was famously used as a pinch-hitter by the late Martin Crowe in the 1992 World Cup held down under.

Dipak would stand for hours at the crease, making Patel bowl without run-up, trying to build a spinner’s action from scratch. It helped and a career move from Auckland to Central District did wonders to his career. For some time now, Patel is the No. 1 spinner in domestic cricket back in New Zealand. However, it was an injury to Mitchell Santner that saw him make his Test debut against Pakistan in the UAE in 2018.

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He bagged a five-wicket haul in the fourth innings but quite astonishingly he still has to pick a Test wicket at home after playing three Tests. That is one of the reasons why New Zealand Cricket have not given him a central contract, as they feel he can only pick wickets in conducive conditions.

The Wankhede terrain wasn’t an unfamiliar venue for the spinner. Former Mumbai Indians pacer Mitchell McClenaghan had got him an opportunity to bowl in the nets during the IPL while he was holidaying in the city.

India great Anil Kumble, who had picked a perfect 10 against Pakistan in 1999 after England’s Jim Laker did in 1956, was quick to congratulate Patel. “Welcome to the club #AjazPatel #Perfect10 Well bowled! A special effort to achieve it on Day 1 & 2 of a Test match,” Kumble posted on Twitter.

“It’s quite a special occasion for me and not just me but my family. Unfortunately for me, they're not here because of Covid. I’m in very illustrious company with Kumble sir as well. Great to see his message and his kind words.” said a beaming Patel.

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-in/sports/topstories/a-perfect-10-kiwi-ajaz-patel-spins-history-on-home-pitch/ar-AARtlD1

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Source:MSN

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