Born in Anand and playing for Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy, Axar Patel may be a true Gujarat nu Chokro but he has been a Punjabi Munda in the Indian Premier League as he played all his matches for Kings XI Punjab in the prestigious contest.
Even his best IPL bowling performance of 4/21 came against his home state of Gujarat. With a hat-trick in that match, he put the brakes on Gujarat Lions’ run chase, taking Kings XI Punjab to a famous victory.
It was 2016 and KXIP had won only one of the opening six matches they had played. With the following match to be played against Gujarat Lions at Rajkot on May 1, the Punjab outfit needed a win and home-boy Patel delivered.
Put in to bat first, KXIP got off to a good start but a collapse in the middle order meant that they had to settle for a par score of 154, not enough against an explosive Gujarat side boasting the likes of Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina and many more.
But KXIP made early inroads when they came on to bowl, and soon enough the ‘Ax-effect’ started to spray some fragrant left-arm spin.
In just his second over, Axar struck on the third ball after Dwayne Smith miscued one straight to Gurkeerat Singh at long-off. It was then Dinesh Karthik and Dwayne Bravo’s turn to face the Axar music as they both dragged good length deliveries back on to their leg stump. With just 3 runs conceded and 3 wickets picked, the damage had been done.
Coming back into the attack in the 11th over, Axar needed a wicket off the first ball to claim a hat-trick. Ravindra Jadeja went for a late cut, but was caught behind for just 11, making Axar Patel the only player to pick a hat-trick in the 2016 season, and also the first KXIP bowler to do so since Yuvraj Singh in 2009.
May 1st, 2009 - Yuvraj took first ever hattrick for KXIP in IPL.— Umang Pabari (@UPStatsman) May 1, 2016
May 1st, 2016 - Axar Patel takes IPL hattrick also for KXIP.
With figures of 4-0-21-4 to end with, including 12 dot balls, Axar took off the wheels of the chase before Gujarat Lions could gain momentum. Kings XI stood victorious by a comfortable 23-run margin.
Axar has proven his value in the shortest format of the game time and again, but this display stood out. Axar not only took the cake, he ate it too.
28th match (D/N), Indian Premier League at Rajkot, May 1, 2016
Kings XI Punjab 154 all-out (Murali Vijay 55) beat
Gujarat Lions 131 for 9 (Axar Patel 4-21)