Patel’s 10 simply magic

Black Caps spinner Ajaz Patel salutes the crowd after taking all 10 wickets in India’s first...
Black Caps spinner Ajaz Patel salutes the crowd after taking all 10 wickets in India’s first innings in Mumbai. PHOTO: SPORTZPICS FOR BCCI
Years, months, days from now, all people will talk about is Ajaz Patel’s perfect 10.

And that is just as well because, despite his wizardry, the Black Caps were slipping towards a crushing loss against India in Mumbai after the opening three days of the second test.

But we can all laugh into the abyss because the 33-year-old left-arm spinner became just the third man in test cricket to take all 10 wickets in an innings.

Patel, who was born in Mumbai but moved to New Zealand with his family in 1996, joined England’s Jim Laker (10 for 53, 1956) and India’s Anil Kumble (10 for 74, 1999) in the exclusive club.

He is the first player to achieve the feat away from home and very likely to be the first to get all 10 only to suffer the bitterness of defeat.

His rise from frustrated fast bowler to spin king was more methodical than meteoric. He switched from seam to spin and from Auckland to Central Districts in his 20s in search of opportunities.

Patel was the highest wicket-taker in first-class cricket for three consecutive years before getting the call-up to play international cricket at the age of 30.

Even then, despite performing well, opportunities to play test cricket in New Zealand were limited.

Not now, surely.

Patel (10 for 119) has written himself into New Zealand cricket folklore, much like Nathan Astle did when he blasted 222 from 168 balls against the English or when Lance Cairns whacked six sixes at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

We lost both those games, remember?

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