Vidarbha have made every Indian cricket fan sit up and take notice as they won the premier domestic competition, the Ranji Trophy two times in a row in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and also pocketed the Irani Trophy twice in the same years.
The Right handed off-spinner Akshay Wakhare has been the lynchpin of the Vidharbha outfit, renowned for its pace-bowlers like Rajneesh Gurbani, Shrikant Wagh, Umesh Yadav and Darshan Nalkande. He along with Aditya Sarwate has been instrumental in Vidarbha’s perfomances over the years, especially since 2017-18 season.
Akshay Wakhare’s Domestic Career In Numbers
34-year-old Akshay Wakhare made his First Class debut in 2006 against Kerala and in 83 matches so far, has picked 279 wickets at an average of 28.59 and an economy of 2.76.
His best bowling figures in an innings are 7/70, which came against Saurashtra in 2014-15 Ranji season in a match where he had also picked 6/92 in the first innings.
Wakhare had topped the wickets chart in the 2015-16 season with 49 scalps but was still waiting for that elusive call-up to the Indian team.
In 2017-18 Ranji season, he starred with 34 wickets in 8 matches, while in the following season in 2018-19, Wakhare picked 34 wickets in 10 matches.
Stats shows that Wakhare is well-versed in the changes needed to bring in home conditions to pick wickets and chances overseas will also give him a chance to showcase his prowess on the foreign pitches and conditions as well.
The Vidarbha spinner has done a lot to warrant one chance when it comes to showing his skills at the international stage.
Harbhajan Backs Wakhare
The right-handed off-spinner Akshay Wakhare has impressed everyone and most importantly the right people like Harbhajan Singh so much, that there has been the advocacy of his inclusion into the Indian team. He was called a match-winner, especially in Indian conditions with the SG ball.
It was evident that India needed new talent and Harbhajan Singh suggested Wakhare’s name for the slot of an off-spinner in the Indian team.
This recommendation had come specifically after the Vidarbha offie picked 5/13 playing for India Red against India Green and helped his team clinch the Duleep Trophy 2019.
Harbhajan Singh had tweeted,” Akshay Wakhare, a 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.”
Not only this, but Harbhajan has also shared a couple of seasons with Wakhare in the Mumbai Indians dressing room as well in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and seen the spinner very closely.
He mentioned in an interview with Mumbai Mirror that, “I have seen Akshay closely at the Mumbai Indians nets. Age for me is just a number. I don’t believe that these two can’t be tried.”
Need For A New Breed Of Finger Spinners
R Ashwin has been the sole off-spinning option for a long time for India given that Harbhajan Singh played the last of his 103 Tests back in 2015 and only Jayant Yadav was the other option tried out in between.
Unfortunately, Ashwin’s form and fitness have let him down significantly, especially since he became a single-format player in 2017 and has appeared only in Tests.
The veteran off-spinner felt that the art of off-spin in dying as teams are preferring wrist-spinners as they are more likely to pick wickets.
However, unless the BCCI invests in newer talents or in players like Wakhare who have deep experience in domestic cricket, they are not going to find anyone.