Axar Patel was never really a consideration for a spot in India’s squad for the T20 World Cup.
However, Ravindra Jadeja’s injury paved the way for him, and since then, he has made the most of his opportunities.
His performances have been so decisive that it seems foolhardy to ignore him.
Let’s look at his performances against Australia in the recent T20 series.
Axar came to bowl during the powerplay and he responded with two runs and a wicket.
He returned in the ninth over. At that point, his figures read 1.5-0-5-1.
Cameron Green smashed him for a six but Axar showed his mental toughness by inducing a top edge off him.
He finished with 4-0-17-3.
The next match, in Nagpur, was reduced to an eight-over affair.
Here, Axar opened the bowling and cleaned up Glenn Maxwell and Tim David, conceding 13 off his two overs.
In the 3rd match, he finished with 4-0-33-3.
Axar’s series numbers (10-0-63-8) were superior to all other spinners, including Chahal (8.2-0-76-2).
In fact, Axar has the third-best bowling average (7.87) and the second-best strike rate (7.5) by an Indian in T20Is.
Ashwin, the man he kept out of the side, tops both lists (3.88 and 7.3 for his 11-1-35-9), but that came way back in 2016.
Leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi has the best strike rate (17.12 and 14.5) amongst the five Indian spinners who have bowled 10 overs this year, in both average and strike rate.
Axar (18.93 and 14.5) is behind only Bishnoi on both counts.
Axar’s economy rate is slightly inferior to Chahal’s, but more than makes up for it with his batting skills.
Typically, off-spinners like Ashiwn get picked if there are many left-handers in the opposing team.
If that is not the case, Axar has a very good chance of making it to the Playing 11.