Mumbai: It’s the unlikeliest of fairy tales. Standing five foot eight, Mumbai-born Ajaz Patel, now a Kiwi player, finds himself rubbing shoulders with the giants of cricket.
Ten wickets in an innings is the stuff of fantasy that had come true only twice before in the 144-year history of Test cricket. The two men who achieved it previously, Jim Laker and Anil Kumble, are bona fide legends of the game. On Saturday, they were joined by a left-arm spinner, playing only his 11th Test at the age of 33.
Patel achieved the remarkable landmark when he captured all 10 Indian wickets over the first two days of the Wankhede Test. Incredibly, the feat came in a city that he has referred to as his “home” in media interactions, 25 years after his family had left for New Zealand to seek a better life.
What makes it all the more special is that it came against Indian batsmen, reputed to be the world’s best players of spin, though many might say that this is no longer the case.
It’s the first time a bowler has walked off with all the wickets while playing away from home, and that too in the first innings of a Test.
“Honestly, it’s surreal and to be able to do that in my career is pretty special. The stars have aligned for me to do it in Mumbai,” said Patel after logging figures of 47.5-12-119-10. “Coming back home to Mumbai, to Wankhede, and producing something like this is quite special. I am grateful to God that he blessed me with such an occasion,” he added.
Patel’s family left India in 1996 when he was eight. His father Yunus was in the refrigeration business while his mother Shahnaz taught at a school near their Jogeshwari residence.
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