Mumbai:- His first 10 Tests produced only 29 wickets but his brilliant effort in the 11th propelled Ajaz Patel of New Zealand into the record books on Saturday as he became the third bowler in the history of Test cricket to claim all 10 wickets in an innings.
His sensational effort on the second day of the second and final Test against India at the Wankhede Stadium was not only his best ever but also the best by any New Zealand bowler.
With figures of 10-119 in 47.5 overs, Ajaz joined legends Jim Laker of England (1956) and India’s Anil Kumble (1999) as the third bowler to dismiss the entire opposing team single-handedly. Laker claimed 10-53 against Australia at Old Trafford on July 26, 1956 while Kumble bagged 10-74 against Pakistan at the then named Feroze Shah Kotla ground in New Delhi on February 4, 1999.
Laker took 51.2 overs to become the first bowler in the history of the game to take all-10 wickets in an innings while Kumble bowled only 26.3 overs for his haul. While, Ajaz in 47.5 overs — that he bowled in four spells of 24-10-57-4, 5-0-16-0, 6-0-16-2 and 12.5-2-30-4 — his fourth spell on the second day of the Test being the most devastating.
Ajaz, whose previous best effort in an innings is 5/59 against Pakistan, gave away 73 runs for his first four wickets but claimed the next six for only 46.
In the process, he produced the best bowling figures ever in an international match at the Wankhede stadium and also the best bowling figures against India.
The 33-year-old spinner, who represents Auckland and Central Districts in domestic cricket, was born in Mumbai and had migrated with his family to New Zealand when he was eight. On Saturday, he wrote his name in the history books on his return to his birth place, claiming the best bowling figures for a Black Caps bowler. He said it was special to get the 10-fer in the city he was born in.
“Yeah, by the grace of God, I think I am quite fortunate to have an occasion like this to be born here and to come back here to achieve something like this is quite special,” said Patel, who made his Test debut against Pakistan at Abu Dhabi in 2018.
“It’s quite a special occasion for me, not only for me but for my wife, my mum and dad and my family, so a very special day for me for sure,” he added.
Ajaz bowled brilliantly, gave the ball lots of revs, flighted it and kept a tight line and length. He was hit quite easily by Mayank Agarwal on the first day as the Indian opener targeted him, but came back strongly to claim two wickets in an over, dismissing Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli in the same over. Patel claimed all his 10 wickets from one end — the Tata End at the Wankhede.
On Friday, he bowled 24 overs unchanged from that end and after getting four wickets, never thought of bowling from the other end
He was on hat-trick in his 30th over, claiming two wickets off successive balls in his first over on the second day, trapping overnight batsman Wriddhiman Saha lbw for 27 and castling R Ashwin,first ball, with one that spun and struck the off-stump. Axar Patel survived the hat-trick ball but became his eighth victim.
And when Rachin Ravindra pouched the catch of Siraj, the entire New Zealand team rushed towards him, enveloping him in embrace as they celebrated with gusto.
“It was a nervous time. We backed Rachin to take it but the ball wobbled and we were all nervous. I told Neil Wagner, during drinks, that I was more nervous now than I was all game. We don’t have these moments as cricketers often. It was special that it came in Mumbai,” he said later.
On Friday after claiming four wickets, Ajaz had said that it was a special feeling to succeed at the Wankhede. On Saturday, he made it an extra special visit to his birthplace with an extraordinary effort and made it to the record books as the best New Zealand spinner.