New Zealand’s Mumbai-born spinner Ajaz Patel on Friday called his four wickets on day one of the second Test against India as “special” but said the job is only half done.
Mayank Agarwal’s unbeaten 120 led India to 221/4 with Patel being the lone wicket-taker for New Zealand on a weather-affected day.
The 33-year-old Patel migrated to New Zealand with his parents as an eight-year-old in 1996 and went on to represent the Kiwi senior team in 2018.
Life has come full circle for the left-arm spinner who returned figures of 4-73 from his 29 overs.
“This is what dreams are made of. To be out here and to go up there and pick up four wickets in the first day is pretty special,” Patel told reporters.
“At the same time the job is only half done, so we need to turn up tomorrow and work hard for the last wickets.
“It is obviously quite evenly poised at the moment with India still having six wickets in hand. But we have done well to get inroads into their line-up.”
Patel struck twice in one over to get the big wickets of Cheteshwar Pujara and skipper Virat Kohli for ducks to put India in trouble at 80-3.
But Agarwal hit back with his fourth Test century and even attacked Patel in an otherwise memorable day for the spinner playing in his 11th Test match.
“The reality of Test cricket is if you put the ball in good areas for long periods of time, you will see rewards,” said Patel.
“It was my day today and I am very very lucky to be sitting here with four wickets and I am pretty happy about it, being in my home town at Wankhede it’s quite special for me.”
Patel got little help from the other end with the Kiwi fast bowlers having a rare off day and fellow spinner Rachin Ravindra, who caught a bug at the start of the day, going wicketless in his four overs.
“Poor Rachin came down with a bug this morning and he fought his way out there throughout the day, so pretty impressive from the young man to be able to stick it out and really shows his character,” Patel said of his batting partner in the previous game when the two helped New Zealand to a draw.
“Tomorrow is a new day and we start fresh. Just about bowling in partnerships.”
The Mumbai pitch, which took some time to dry after two days of unseasonal rain in the western port city, assisted the spinners and Patel capitalised.
“Definitely as a spinner you enjoy bowling with pace and bounce and obviously it’s providing turn on day one,” said Patel.
“Tomorrow’s game plan is very simple. Try and restrict them as much as possible. Bowl lots of good balls.”