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Ajaz Patel

‘Went quicker than expected’ – Ajaz Patel on T20I debut

New Zealand news

Ajaz Patel, the 30-year-old left-arm spinner, made his New Zealand debut in the first Twenty20 International against Pakistan, returning 1/27 in a two-run loss.

The Mumbai-born Central Districts man was handed his cap by Ish Sodhi, and was thrown the ball straightaway by Kane Williamson after Pakistan opted to bat. The first ball was hit for four by Babar Azam, but Patel came back well after that, even picking up the wicket of Sahibzada Farhan.

“The first ball was always going to be the struggle. Once I got the first ball out of the way, I was feeling pretty good, and I knew what I had to do and just stick to my guns and do what I do best,” said Patel the day after the game.

“I don’t know if it showed on TV, but I was definitely shaking inside. It probably didn’t help that there was a delay for the TV as well, waiting to get started. So I was at the top of my mark kind of hoping to start sooner rather than later.

“I was more comfortable after that. Obviously, the level is a little bit higher and a little bit more in terms of the intensity. But it was a cool feeling, and really, really privileged to be able to get that opportunity.”

The big evening of his life matched up with expectations, Patel said, but added that it was all rather fast. “I think it all went quite quickly, a lot quicker than I expected. I know everyone says it goes pretty quickly, but I definitely rushed through the night a lot quicker than I was expecting,” he said.

“When I was bowling, I didn’t really think about it or absorb it as much as I could have. But more when I was on the field and just seeing everything that was going on out there, it was quite a special moment, a special time to be out there in that environment.”

That the cap was given to him by Sodhi, the third-best bowler in the world in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s T20I Rankings, made it extra special. Sodhi, 26, is also India-born and the two go back a fair way.

“It sent chills down my spine and I definitely had goose bumps,” said Patel. “It was special to receive my cap from Ish because I've had a lot of interaction with him over my career. We go back a long way, it was a very special touch.”

It didn’t get any easier after the match either, as Patel conceded to not being able to sleep because of the buzz in his head.

“I definitely struggled to sleep last night (after the game). I got back to the hotel, and I was knackered but for some reason I couldn’t sleep. I suppose it gave me a little bit of time to get back and reply to some messages that had come through,” he said. “It’s a nice moment and something I'll never forget.”

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