Akshar Patel (left) © PTI
Akshar Patel (left) was India’s joint leading wicket-taker in the series against Sri Lanka © PTI

India demolished Sri Lanka with a 5-0 whitewash in the recently-concluded One-Day International (ODI) series at home. India moved into the hastily-organised series with a new-look squad, as a lot of their senior players were rested, along with regular skipper MS Dhoni. Out of all the fringe players, Akshar Patel was the one who made a gigantic impact on the series. Ayush Gupta takes a look into what Akshar could potentially bring to the table.

Though seen primarily as a bowling all-rounder, Akshar Patel is also a batsman of heady potential. He started to prove his worthiness and come into the consideration during the year 2013. He was picked for Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Mumbai Indians (MI), but didn’t get an opportunity to prove himself. Nevertheless, he played for India U-23 in the Emerging Team Cup the same year and claimed seven wickets in the tournament, including a four-wicket haul in the semi-finals against UAE. The following season in the Ranji Trophy, he shone both with bat and ball, scoring 369 runs and claiming 29 wickets in the tournament.

Earlier this year, he was also adjudged the BCCI U-19 Cricketer of the year for the 2012-13 season and was impressive in IPL 2014 after he claimed 16 wickets while playing for Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) with an economy rate of just 6.22. He earned his maiden call for the national team for the ODI series in Bangladesh. Although he was not as impressive as was expected in his debut series, he was picked again for India in the recent series against West Indies and Sri Lanka.

He got off to a good start against West Indies, as he claimed two wickets and gave away just 26 runs in 10 overs in his first match of the series. It was followed by the five games against Sri Lanka, which only served to enhance his reputation. He claimed at least two wickets in each game and was very economical, finishing with a total of 11 wickets in the series at an economy rate of 4.61, making him the joint highest wicket-taker in the series along with Umesh Yadav. He also recorded his best figure of three for 40 in 10 overs.

Akshar has proven that he has a wealth of talent, especially with the ball. Although he is an all-rounder, he should not be considered just as a back-up or a replacement for India’s current first-choice all-rounder, Ravindra Jadeja. Instead, he must be considered as a potentially serious contender. He has the ability to be an asset to the Indian squad as the team heads into the ICC World Cup 2015 scheduled to get underway in Australia and New Zealand early next year, especially with the tour Down Under coming up early next month. Who knows, this could well be the man who would make the difference with his spin.

(Ayush Gupta is a reporter at CricketCountry. A passionate supporter of Manchester United, he idolises Roger Federer)