Not many people were aware about the name ‘Ajaz Patel’ before New Zealand’s tour of UAE. Now, perhaps, there is no one who wouldn’t recognize him, courtesy his man-of-the-match performance in his debut test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, where he helped his team with a narrow four-run victory over the home side (well, UAE is Pakistan team’s home…isn’t it?).
However, still there is a lot that is yet to be known about this left-arm orthodox spinner from New Zealand, who is believed to be the first Muslim to represent the nation in international cricket. Here we have compiled six facts about him:
1) Immigrated to New Zealand in 1996
Ajaz Patel, who hails from India, was only eight years old when he shifted to Auckland with his father, Yunus, and mother, Shahnaz. Initially, he had no plans to become a cricketer. However, one fine day, his aunt enrolled him into a cricket club and he developed an immense interest in the game all of a sudden.
I think we should all take this opportunity to thank her aunt for giving us a great talent. So, Thank you Ajaz’s aunt!
2) Played alongside Martin Guptill in college
If you play in the same side as Martin Guptill — even if it is at college — then one can assume you are immensely talented! Notably, Ajaz Patel played for the first XI at Avondale College in the role of a left-arm fast bowler alongside future internationals Martin Guptill and Jeet Raval.
3) Switched from fast bowling to orthodox spin because of his height
As mentioned in the above point, Patel started his career as a fast bowler. He even played a few games under the same ‘profile’ for Auckland U-19 team. But, since he was way too short (5 foot 6 inches) to make an impact as a fast bowler, he made the right decision of making a switch to spin.
His first match as a spinner was a club game for Suburbs New Lynn. He was in his early 20s then and was mentored by none other than test all rounder Dipak Patel.
4) Highest Wicket-Taker in Plunket Shield for three consecutive seasons
Ajaz Patel has ended up as the highest wicket-taker in New Zealand’s domestic first-class cricket tournament, Plunket Shield, in the last three consecutive seasons. However, it is quite surprising that despite such breathtaking performances, he couldn’t make to a national spot on his ability and had to wait for Todd Astle’s and Mitchell Santner’s repsective injuries to give him a push up the line. The Black Caps selectors need to be more vigilant, I suppose.
5) A disciplined chap
Like England’s Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, Ajaz Patel is a proud Muslim and does not participate in team’s celebrations comprising alcohol. He instead prefers an energy drink as seen in the image above. Furthermore, he wakes up at 6 AM for the first of five daily prayer sessions. Thus, one can safely assume that he is indeed a disciplined chap.
6) Dream Debut
Pakistan was chasing a very achievable target of 176 on the fourth day of the first test in Abu Dhabi in November, 2018. In fact, they were breezing until they reached 37-o. However, once there, Ajaz Patel happened and the entire batting line-up of the Pakistani team came tumbling down….as usual…Patel received the Man of the Match award for his figures of 5-59 in the second innings.
What do you think the future holds for this not-so-young-lad? Will he become a test regular for the Kiwis? Tell us in the comments below!