Amit Mishra‘s upturn in fortune is no unexpected sight. The Haryani leggie, although ignored for National team selection for the longest time, has been a proven performer at the domestic level and in the Indian Premier League. But despite having the unquestionable talent to feature on a consistent basis for India, Mishra has seldom enjoyed the confidence of captain MS Dhoni. But the leg-spinner has never taken the apparent snub to heart, and has always let his bowling do the talking. The lack of confidence that Dhoni and the team management have had in Mishra has been proven by the fact that Mishra has played a third of his 23 ODIs for India at The Harare Sports Club and the Queens Park Club in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.
The last two teams to tour Zimbabwe have been essentially second string sides comprising fringe players. The tours to the African minnows have been an opprtunity for some of the fringe players to get some games under their belt. Unsurprisingly, Mishra has been part of both squads. A mere ‘passenger’ on most tours, Mishra got his much awaited opportunity after a long lay-off under Virat Kohli‘s captaincy in the recently concluded Asia Cup. He won countless admirers with his bag of tricks. A magnificent 2 for 28 in his ten overs in a high pressure game against arch enemies Pakistan proved beyond doubt that Mishra has the ability to stifle some of the best batsmen in the world.
Wickets win matches – never mind the format, be it ODIs or test matches or T20, and Mishra’s ability to pick up wickets holds him in good stead. Even Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja‘s inclusion in the team shouldn’t do much warm to Mishra’s prospects – the leggie has 95 wickets from 76 IPL games, a much better track record than either Ashwin or Jadeja. While Ashwin has 64 wickets from 67 games, Jadeja has only picked up 39 wickets from 78 matches. Jadeja and Ashwin stem the flow of runs – they wait for the batsman to make mistakes. Mishra induces the errors and particularly in the slower tracks of Bangladesh, Amit Mishra is likely to be, as he has already proven in the first couple of games, MS Dhoni’s trumpcard. The Haryani leggie is slower through the air, and would force the batsmen to generate power. And like that picture perfect dismissal of Ahmad Shehzad on Friday, a beautifully tossed up delivery getting the better of Shehzad, the multiple fascets to Mishra’s art will further boost India’s chances in the ongoing World T20.
On Friday, MS Dhoni put all his eggs in one basket as he opted for three genuine spinners against Pakistan. And in his first T20I game in nearly four years, Mishra didn’t let his skipper down. An excellent bowling display conceding just 22 runs in four overs and picking up 2 wickets including the beauty that foxed Ahmad Shehzad who played down the wrong line after charging down the wicket, Amit Mishra continued his golden run of form with another scintillating display of accuracy and wicket-taking ability against West Indies. 18 for 2 in 4 overs with wickets off consecutive deliveries.
First he lured Marlon Samuels to advance from the crease, as he tossed up a legbreak, Samuels came forward but the ball dipped and spun away from him, deceiving the willow and leaving Dhoni with little to do. The next ball was a googly which Dwayne Bravo failed to pick and the result was a clear leg-before dismissal. Mishra might have not got his dues over the years, but his time has surely arrived.
Atleast Amit Mishra will not be known for his performances against Zimbabwe anymore! But the bigger question is, considering how pivotal he has been so far in the World T20, How do you ignore him now?