Akshar Patel's a World Cup contender, hints Kohli

Stand-in skipper Virat heaps praise on rookie left-arm spinner Akshar’s all-round performance in the recently-concluded 5-0 whitewash over Sri Lanka in ODIs

Ranchi: Impressed with rookie Akshar Patel's all-round performance, India's stand-in skipper Virat Kohli has hinted that the left-arm spinner could be preferred in the side for next year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Akshar Patel is congratulated by his skipper Virat Kohli during the Hyderabad ODI against SL. Pic/PTI
Akshar Patel is congratulated by his skipper Virat Kohli during the Hyderabad ODI against SL. Pic/PTI 

Patel's emergence as an all-rounder in the just-concluded ODI series against Sri Lanka means that Ravichandran Ashwin is no more an automatic choice for the only spinner's slot.

"Hopefully, if he (Patel) keeps performing like that and shows his composure, he will probably be preferred over a couple of other people in the batting order. You never know when that change arrives.

'Happy for him'
"All I can say is I'm happy for him. Wish him all the luck hopefully we'll see him up the order in the upcoming series," Kohli told reporters here after the 5-0 thrashing of Sri Lanka on Sunday.

With 11 wickets from five matches, the Gujarat spinner became the leading wicket-taker in the series eclipsing pace spearhead Umesh Yadav who was rested for the final ODI here.

Lavishing praise on him, Kohli said: "He's very confident. Even when I'm going to keep seven in the ring he never says no. He's always confident that he can still bowl to the field settings and come out on top and hold the batsman back," he said.

"He's not scared which is the most important thing. He knows how to cramp them for room to hit big shots. He's a very composed guy, a self-assured individual and at such a young age, he has so much self belief expressing himself completely," added Kohli.

"The moment you have a bit of hesitation that's when things start to go wrong, but I don't see anything with that with Akshar."

India required 47 off the last five overs and number nine Patel gave his skipper fine support as India chased down Sri Lanka's 287 with eight balls to spare.

Patel was 17 not out but Kohli was astonished to see the rookie batter hit two sixes from low full tosses over pacer Dhammika Prasad's head in the first one-dayer in Cuttack.

"I've been really impressed with him. It was obviously something for a guy who knows how to bat and listen to the experienced guy and do what is required. More than this what he did in Cuttack was more astonishing."

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