Kolkata: Bowling all-rounder Axar Patel wants to make the most of his Indian Premier (IPL) form for Kings XI Punjab, to reinforce his way into the national side for the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy next month in England.
On Friday, Patel once again proved his credentials with a quickfire 17-ball 38 and doubled up with three wickets against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to help the Kings XI Punjab clinch the tie by 19 runs.
Patel, who last donned the blue against New Zealand in the fifth One-Day International (ODI) at Visakhapatnam in October last year, injured himself while fielding against England in the fifth Test where he was called up as a cover for Jayant Yadav.
Since then the left-arm orthodox spinner has not been selected for national duty with the likes of Yuzvendra Chahal (6/25 vs England in the third T20) and Kuldeep Yadav (4/68 vs Australia in the fourth Test) making strong cases for themselves across formats besides big fish Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Patel, 23, though has so far found his footing in the IPL -- a quicksilver pathway to make the India cut -- scalping 13 wickets in nine matches and also scoring 176 runs.
"This has been my best IPL so far," Patel told IANS in a telephonic interview.
"Barring a few matches, I have batted well. I am bowling well too, except maybe one or two games. This has been my best season. There are still a lot of matches to play and I want to take the confidence forward," said the Gujarat tweaker whose all-round show with bat and ball was lauded in Punjab's 26-run win over Gujarat Lions.
Patel first scored a brisk 17-ball 34, laced with three boundaries and two sixes, and then accounted for Suresh Raina (33) and Dwayne Smith (4) to break the back of Gujarat Lions' batting from which they never recovered.
"The first time I played for India, I got a chance after performing well in the IPL," Axar, who made his India debut in June 2014 against Bangladesh in Dhaka, said.
In the same year, the wiry southpaw took 17 wickets in 17 matches helping Punjab reach the final where they lost to Kolkata Knight Riders.
"IPL has now become a good platform for youngsters to flourish. I am trying hard to enhance my chances of a comeback by performing well and pushing the limits. I want to continue my form," Patel said.
Punjab are still in the fray to book a playoff berth along with Sunrisers Hyderabad. Should the Preity Zinta-co-owned franchise make the last four, Patel said David Warner's Hyderabad will pose the toughest challenge.
"We are targeting match by match. The plan is to not put too much pressure on ourselves and play our normal game.
"Sunrisers Hyderabad will be a tough opponent if we meet them in the playoffs provided we qualify. They have a strong batting line up."
Patel signed off by lavishing praise on chinaman Kuldeep, saying the 22-year old has been the best Indian spinner so far in the cash-rich tournament.
"Kuldeep Yadav has done well. I have played with him a lot. He is the youngster who is doing so well. In future, he will do really well for India."