Cricket - Ajaz's 10 wickets
Tell-tale: The scoreboard of India's first innings in Mumbai Test tells it's own story. Image Credit: Twitter

Kolkata: Ajaz Patel, who became only the third spinner in the history of Test cricket to claim 10 wickets in an innings, is by no stretch of imagination - a Jim Laker or Anil Kumble. The two predecessors, albeit different type of spinners, were at the peak of their prowess when they claimed the feat at the gap of 43 years.

Patel, at 33 years, has just 10 Tests behind him and truth be told - is no Daniel Vettori. When he and Rachin Ravindra, the two players of Indian origin held out with their batting in the last hour of Kanpur Test to thwart India, there was a wisecrack on social media that if even the Kiwi spinners had bowled as well as they had batted - it would have made for an even competition.

In less than a week, the bearded spinner with a ready smile and love for his Mumbai roots, wreaked havoc against an almost full-strength Indian batting - coming close to a hattrick during his six wickets on the second day to finish with figures of 47.5-12-119-10. There is a legitimate debut of his leg before dismissal of skipper Virat Kohli on Friday, but history will eventually not take cognizance of that.

Cricket - Ajaz
An emotional Ajaz Patel (centre) is hugged by his teammates as he claims his 10th wicket with Mohammed Siraz on Saturday. Image Credit: AFP

Patel’s feat, in cricketing logic, has a special significance as neither Laker or Kumble have achieved the landmark in the first innings - a fact which has not gone unnoticed by the highest Indian wicket-taker. ‘‘Welcome to the club #AjazPatel #Perfect10 Well bowled! A special effort to achieve it on Day1 & 2 of a test match. #INDvzNZ,’’ tweeted Kumble.

What was the mantra behind Patel’s success? For one, the left-arm spinner’s patience was admirable as he needed 47.5 overs to run through the Indian batting line-up who batted for 109.5 overs. He bowled in four spells of 24-10-57-4, 5-0-16-0, 6-0-16-2 and 12.5-2-30-4 - with his fourth spell on the second day of the Test being the most devastating.

He was not loathe to flight the ball and kept a tight line and length. He was hit quite easily by Mayank Agarwal on the first day as the Indian opener targetted him, but the New Zealander who played for Auckland came back strongly to claim two wickets in an over, dismissing Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli.


All of Patel’s 10 wickets came from the Tata End at the Wankhede and on Friday, he bowled 24 overs unchanged from that end and after getting four wickets, stand-in skipper Tom Latham persisted with him from the other end.

Back on Saturday, he was on a hat-trick in his 30th over as he claimed two wickets off successive balls in his first over on the second day, trapping overnight batsman Wriddhiman Saha lbw for 27 and castling Ravi Ashwin first ball with one that spun big and struck the off-stump. Axar Patel survived the hat-trick ball but became his eighth victim.

After claiming four wickets on Friday, Patel had said that it was a ‘special feeling’ to succeed at the Wankhede. Little did he know that immortality would beckon him less than 24 hours later. It’s a pity that the Kiwis have their backs to the wall after being dismissed for 62 in their first innings, but the second Test at Wankhede would still possibly be remembered as ‘Patel’s Test.’