By Sudipto Ganguly
MUMBAI -New Zealand spinner Ajaz Patel became only the third bowler to pick up all 10 wickets in an innings in international cricket, achieving the rare feat against India in the second test at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.
The 33-year-old joined England off-spinner Jim Laker (1956, against Australia) and India leg-spinner Anil Kumble (1999, against Pakistan) in picking up all wickets in an innings.
“Welcome to the club #AjazPatel #Perfect10. Well bowled! A special effort to achieve it on day one and two of a test match,” spin bowling great Kumble, who took 619 test wickets for India, said on Twitter https://twitter.com/anilkumble1074/status/1467038083455410185.
It was the first time a bowler took 10 wickets in an innings in a test away from home, although he was playing his first test in the city of his birth.
Ajaz, whose parents immigrated to New Zealand in 1996, added six wickets to the four he took on the first day on Friday to finish with figures of 10-119.
“To be honest, it’s pretty surreal,” he said in a post-innings interview.
“I don’t think you ever believe you’re going to achieve something like that. So to be able to do it in my career, it’s pretty special.”
Ajaz said he had yet to comprehend the magnitude of his achievement and thanked Kumble for his message.
“These things don’t sink in until later,” he later told reporters. “It’s brilliant for me, my family and my wife.
“You spend a lot of time away from home as a cricketer and I’m just grateful to God for this, this occasion.
“Very illustrious group to be a part of. Great to see his (Kumble) message and his kind words. Humbled and fortunate to be in that company.”
The left-arm spinner, who started his career as a fast bowler, extracted sharp turn and bounce from the pitch and carried the New Zealand bowling on his broad shoulders to restrict the hosts’ first innings total to 325.
After picking up the wickets of Wriddhiman Saha and Ravichandran Ashwin in his first over on Saturday, the stocky spinner returned after the lunch interval to take the remaining four to wrap up India’s innings.
As Rachin Ravindra pouched a skier from India’s number 11 batter Mohammed Siraj to confirm the fall of the final wicket, Ajaz went down on one knee with a clenched fist before being hugged by his team mates.
He also received a standing ovation from the Indian team in the dressing room and the sparse crowd at the ground overlooking the Arabian Sea.
“I’m very fortunate and I guess the stars have aligned for me to have an occasion like that here in Mumbai,” Ajaz said.
“To be born here and then come back here and achieve something like that, it’s pretty special.”
(Reporting by Sudipto GangulyEditing by Frances Kerry, Kim Coghill and Rohith Nair)