Cricket: Ajaz Patel wants to end rollercoaster year with wickets when … – New Zealand Herald

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Ajaz Patel is hoping for more chances to celebrate. Photo / Sportzpics.
Two prizes awaiting in Pakistan will ensure Ajaz Patel’s unusual year ends in positive style – a sore left shoulder and an abundance of pressure.
They might not sound like the typical winnings targeted by
In the 12 months after becoming the third test man to claim all 10 wickets in an innings, the spinner has bowled two overs in international cricket.
They came during an unproductive test at Lord’s in June and, just as he was for drawn home series against Bangladesh and South Africa last summer, Patel was unneeded for the remainder of the 3-0 defeat in England.
Having never played an ODI, and with the last of his seven T20Is coming in September 2021, Patel has been forced to live off domestic cricket – and the memory of a lifetime.
He wouldn’t have considered such inactivity in the moments following his wondrous 10-119 in Mumbai, the city of his birth. But nor were the next 12 months entirely unexpected, such is the life of a specialist spinner who calls home the green decks of New Zealand.
Now, though, as the Black Caps prepare for the first of two tests against Pakistan, starting in Karachi on Boxing Day, Patel has different expectations.
Making his return to the subcontinent – and to prominence – Patel can’t wait for the bounties that will bring.
“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster,” Patel said of his year. “But at the same time it’s exciting now going back to Pakistan. I know the left shoulder is going to be sore again and I’m going to have plenty of overs to bowl.
“That’s part and parcel of being a spinner sometimes – you take your opportunities when they come and try to make the most of them. It’s a great opportunity to go to Pakistan and test myself in their conditions.”
Those conditions are unlikely to be quite as inviting as what Patel encountered at Wankhede Stadium last December, when he picked up four more scalps in the second innings as 33 of 37 wickets in the match fell to spin.
But Patel still knows he will be required as one of the tourists’ most valuable strike weapons, a responsibility he wears well.
“As an international cricketer, when conditions are in your favour, there’s pressure to go out there and perform,” he said. “But we thrive on that kind of pressure and that kind of environment, and those challenges are what we enjoy about the game.
“When I got into conditions like that when I feel like they’re going to be in my favour, I really make sure, in a funny way, I simplify things even further and try to make sure that I control what I can control and then let the wicket do the rest.”
Patel has enjoyed scarcely few chances to hone that approach; this year has hardly been an aberration.
The 34-year-old has played only 12 tests since making his debut in 2018, a three-match series against Pakistan in which he collected 13 wickets. But rather than feeling unlucky about his workload since his bow in the UAE, Patel treasures that time and hopes an even better one is on the way.
“It was a great memory and a great way to begin my test career,” he said. “It’s something I look back at fondly and reminisce on quite often, about how fortunate that was.
“It’s different challenge now that we’re actually in Pakistan, and it’s exciting for us as cricketers.”
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