Ajaz Yunus Patel
October 21, 1988, Bombay (now Mumbai), Maharashtra, India
Left hand bat
Slow left arm orthodox
One minute, he was sitting down to eat dinner with nearly 30 of his closest family. The next, he was being told that he was on the Test squad to play for New Zealand. Meet Ajaz Patel, a left-arm spinner who was, like many before him, a fast bowler growing up.
It wasn't until he was in his twenties that he realised he needed to make a change. "Being 5 foot 6 wasn't quite going to cut it at the next level." Dabbling with it in a club game, he realised it might even be fun to bowl spin and the rest, as it turned out, was history. On October 31, 2018 - at the age of 30 - Ajaz opened the bowling for New Zealand in a T20I against Pakistan. Exactly like his coach Dipak Patel did in the 1992 World Cup. Clearly, it was kismet.
Ajaz's rise to international cricket was built on repeated success at domestic level. He was the highest wicket-taker in first-class cricket for three years running before he got the call from selector Gavin Larsen in July 2018. In fact, he had played an immense part in Central Stags winning the title that year with 48 wickets at 21.52. Having emigrated with his family from Mumbai in 1996, he became the fifth Indian-origin cricketer to play for New Zealand since Ted Badcock, Tom Puna, Ish Sodhi and his buddy from school Jeet Raval.
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