NAGPUR: Akshay Wakhare may be trading his skills in domestic circuit for more than a decade but he hasn’t got his due till now.
A day after Vidarbha off-spinner Akshay Wakhare spelled his magic in Saturday’s Duleep Trophy final for India Red, the legendary off-spinner Harbhajan Singh-who is also Wakhare’s idol-showered praises on him.
Highlighting Wakhare’s 5 for 13 that gave India Red the Duleep Trophy title and his consistency in domestic circuit for last few years, Harbhajan batted for the Vidarbha offie for the national berth in the Tests.
“Akshay Wakhare, consistent performer with the ball from last couple of years in 1st class cricket back to back Ranji Trophy champion last two years. Great spell yesterday 5 for 13 against India Green. Winning another championship for his team. Way to go. Indian test squad calling,” tweeted Harbhajan.
The 33-year-old has been one of the most consistent spinners in the domestic circuit, especially in the last five-six seasons. Wakhare picked-up his 19th five-wicket haul when he guided India Red to an innings and 38 runs win over India Green in the final.
Wakhare finished 2019 Duleep Trophy edition with 14 wickets in three matches that included another five-wicket haul in the league phase. He has been consistent in previous five editions.
The soft-spoken spinner, who has shared the Mumbai Indians dressing room in IPL for two seasons with Harbhajan, learnt a lot from the Turbanator at Mumbai Indians fold. In 2015-16 Ranji Trophy season, Wakhare was the second leading wicket-taker in the country with 49 wickets. Still, he did not get his due at the top.
The Vidarbha spinner may not have come close to getting a call national call but he never complained and kept on slogging in the domestic relentlessly. The lanky bowler has earned a name of “a big-fish catcher”. A glance into his track record, one may find, Wakhare has accounted for big wickets like Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer and many others.
Former India pace Subroto Banerjee, the ex-bowling coach of Vidarbha team, believes Wakhare has the knack of taking big wickets at crucial juncture. Banerjee has always rooted for Wakhare’s promotion at the top. “He has always been a fantastic a bowler. I feel, he deserves to don the India cap. His consistency sets him apart,” Banerjee told TOI.
Currently, R Ashwin is India’s first-choice off-spinner. There are only Wakhare and allrounder Jalaj Saxena who can replace him. However, Haryana off-spinner Jayant Yadav got consistent opportunities over the duo. Wakhare, who has taken 175 wickets in the last 6 seasons, has played one of the most prominent roles in Vidarbha’s growth in this span, which include two Ranji Trophy and as many Irani Cup titles.