The occasional incredible balls from Ajaz Patel

The worst balls followed by the best. An inaccurate modern finger-spinner.

Ajaz Patel is a wicket-taker.  In the space of eleven balls he delivered four wicket-taking deliveries.

Even if you believe that Pujara walked past his, and Kohli definitely edged it, that is what Patel has done in these two Tests, delivered balls worthy of taking a Test batter.

In-between he's often bowled terrible. And yet, when you look at his first session, these were his figures 15-7-30-3.

Patel bowled four full tosses in the first session. I think that count is a bit soft, as there was an accidental Yorker and another three balls that even a half shuffle forward would have resulted in a full toss. He also missed his length short, delivering four half trackers.

Then there was the line. He bowled a few balls wide of off stump, but he also delivered four or so pitching well outside leg stump.  That means he missed his line on both sides of the wicket and missed his length in each direction.

Patel bowled more than one poor ball an over while taking 15-7-30-3. That's 15 overs, seven maidens, 30 runs and 3 wickets in case you need it literally spelt out.

The entire thing was so bizarre because he ripped out India's top order when not offering them buffet balls.

The important thing is the wicket-taking deliveries. Patel certainly has them; he pitched balls on the middle and leg stump that ended up a foot outside off. Occasionally fast turners rip past the probing blade of an unsure batter.

And the surface was very much in his favour. The first ball went through the top of the pitch - with a chunk of the wicket flying up.  His degree of spin at Kanpur were 2.6; it was 4.5 here at Wankhede. That's a big jump. There was extra pace on the surface too, which helps the ball skid on. It was a near-ideal situation.

So if you have the ability - and facilities - to rip the ball, those magic ones buy you some of the poor deliveries you get.

There was also an element of luck in some of the wickets. Iyer's edge could have gone anywhere. Maybe 70% of third umpires decide that Kohli hit his first.  But there were also plenty of times where Patel just ripped the ball past the bat.

But I really wanted to look at just how inaccurate he is. This isn't that uncommon at the moment. We have seen a few finger spinners come through who are not that accurate. Dom Bess is probably the most recent example, but Moeen Ali was the one before.

And this isn’t a case of R Ashwin’s relentless boredom in changing line and length, because when he needs accuracy, he’s deadly. But you can see more Ashwin below.

It's still worth taking a look at it. Today the BCCI didn't have the hawkeye up on their site, so I looked at the second innings versus the other A Patel in the last Test at Kanpur.

This is both bowlers compared by their second innings there.

You can see from this Axar Patel has a line and length. He drops the ball exactly where he wants, the most dangerous spot, and leaves it here. Ajaz Patel does not. He doesn't really have a line or length. He's fuller, straighter, but if Axar is using a handkerchief, Ajaz is using a tablecloth.

This is when you expect a spinner to be the most accurate; the wicket is in their favour, they just need to hit a spot over and over again, keep pressure on the batters.  But this was the innings that I thought Ajaz bowled better in that match, so I went back to look at his first innings.

It is worse. Even if you forget the uncalled wides he threw in down the leg. He was all over the place in this innings. And even though it doesn't look like he bowled that short, this is the shortest length for Axar Patel. He's a lot taller than Ajaz, and many of these balls are far too short for a bowler of his pace and height.

If you are playing him, your smart money is to wait for the bad balls. They come with such frequency, and are often so bad, that you can easily score off him and ensure there is no pressure.

But a bit like Moeen Ali, people want to get on top of him. So you have the hilarious situation where Mayank Agarwal misses out on a bunch of poor balls, and so he runs around to loft one over mid-off from outside leg as an angry, messy protest.

So I have shown you that he struggles with line and length, but I'm not your first port of call, you know that he didn't just get lucky in the first session.

He took 4/73 from 29 today. Which are amazing figures considering he was New Zealand's only wicket-taker and his fellow spinner went at nearly a run a ball over eight horrible overs.

So let's look at the last wicket he took.

The 48th over, he started with a slightly overpitched ball just outside off. Next up he dropped his length back and bowls around middle and leg. The ball jags sideways while bouncing, and beats Shreyas Iyer. He follows up that beautiful finger spinner with a ball about a metre outside leg stump that is also overpitched, and it's swept to the boundary safely. The following ball is on a good length around leg stump, Iyer moves offside of the ball, gets a meaty inside edge, and it flicks off the top of the pad to Tom Blundell with the gloves.

Over pitched, unplayable, dogshit and a wicket in four balls.

This is what Ajaz Patel does. For a finger spinner he is very unpredictable, most first class left-arm orthodox are far more accurate, but they don't have his boom ball. Ajaz Patel's best ball is explosive.

And the reason that Iyer is playing from the offside of the ball is that ripper from ball two. It's not through pressure. Or even any consistency. It's just that every now and then, Ajaz Patel bowls an incredible ball, and even if he bowls some fifth in between, you still have to defuse the bombs he does deliver.

Because Ajaz Patel is a wicket-taker.