How Akshar turned Axar — and turned from tempo to spin
The left-armer, England’s tormentor this series, had an incident-filled beginning to both life and cricket
His variation, especially the arm-ball, has bamboozled the England batsmen in the ongoing series, but the spelling of his name has been a mystery ever since Axar Patel became an IPL sensation in 2014.
To unravel the mystery, one has to travel to his home-town Nadiad, a 90-minute drive away from Ahmedabad.
While the left-arm spinner has preferred to spell his name across social media platforms as “Akshar”, official records, including the BCCI’s, reflect it as Axar.
Contrary to what has been widely reported, Akshar became Axar due to a nurse’s error at the clinic at the time of his birth.
Variations his forte: While Axar Patel’s bowling has continued to flummox the England batsmen, the mystery surrounding his spelling has been unravelled by his parents Rajeshbhai Patel and Pritiben.
“He was born in Anand (a town famous for milk products) and the nurse issued the hospital certificate for birth registration spelling it as ‘Axar’. That’s how it stuck to him,” says mother Priti, who during Axar’s teens was hesitant to let her son pursue cricket due to fears of his getting injured.
Didn’t the family — which has a convenient one-storied bungalow in a nondescript locality of the town where Axar’s and his uncle’s families reside together — feel the need to get his name in the official records changed at some stage to clear the confusion?
“How did it matter back then? We didn’t know he would go on to become such a big cricketer. Otherwise we would have definitely got it changed,” says Sanship, an elder cousin of the southpaw.
Axar, during his exploits in the pink-ball Test, said that a freak injury had meant he had to stop bowling left-arm pace and turn to spin. Sanship reveals it wasn’t an on-field injury that caused the turnaround.
“He was playing in the fields as a schoolkid and hurt his left shin with a sickle. Since then, he could never bowl fast with a run-up,” says Sanship.
But it was another injury in his first season of playing with the hard ball that forced his mother to start opposing her son’s love for cricket.
“A ball hit him in the eye, and me and his nani (maternal grandmother) thought he shouldn’t risk such injuries playing cricket,” Priti recalls.
It took Axar’s father Rajesh a lot of time to change the minds of the mother and grandmother, ensuring the youngster’s love for cricket didn’t come to an abrupt halt.
Due to domestic reasons, the family couldn’t watch Axar at the stadium last week.
To attend fourth Test
“But all of us will definitely travel to Motera and watch him in action [in the fourth Test]. Just can’t wait for it,” says an elated Rajesh.
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