The curious case of Amit Mishra: The 33-year old Amit Mishra, has been having a ‘start-stop’ ever career since he made his ODI debut in the 2nd match of the TVS Cup against South Africa, played on 13th April, 2003, at Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka, which India won by 153 runs. It is in that match, 2 overs in India innings were of 7 deliveries each, one by the SA skipper, Graeme Smith and the other one by Makhaya Ntini.
Mishra had picked up the wicket of Neil McKenzie (12) who was caught by the wicket-keeper, Parthiv Patel, giving away 29 runs in his 5 overs.
In his 13-year career, Mishra has played only in 31 ODIs, picking up 49 wickets, at an average of 26.44, with 6/48 as his best bowling performance. He has a reasonably good economy rate, giving 4.71 runs an over and has been picking up a wicket every 33 deliveries.
Mishra’s best bowling performance came in the fifth and final ODI against Zimbabwe, played on 3rd August, 2013, at Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, when he scalped 6 wickets, giving away 48 runs in his spell of 8.5 overs and helping India win the match by 7 wickets with 95 deliveries to spare.
He made his Test debut in the second Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2008, that was played 17th and 21st October, 2008, at PCA, Mohali.
Mishra got into the Playing XI, thanks to an injury to the then skipper, Anil Kumble, who decided sit out.
It was a remarkable debut for the youngster who was very effective and picked up his maiden ‘5-wicket haul’ and also backed it up with another 2 wickets in the second innings.
He finished the match with an impressive analysis of 38.2-10-106-7 at 2.77 economy rate and played a big role in India winning the match by 320 runs.
The third Test match of the series played Firoz Shah Kotla, Delhi, gave yet another chance to Mishra, even though Kumble was part of the Playing XI, since Harbhajan Singh was a non-starter due to injury. This gave a great opportunity for the young spinner to bowl in tandem with the legendary Anil Kumble.
Mishra did impress with his performance, picking up 2 wickets, sending down 47 overs and giving away 144 runs and maintained a healthy 3.06 economy rate in Australia’s first innings.
This drawn Test match also saw Anil Kumble retire from international cricket that gave an open platform for Mishra to be part of the Indian dressing room.
Amit was a part of the Playing Xi in ICC Champions Trophy 2009, in South Africa. Playing in 2 games he was successful in picking up only 2 wickets.
Sri Lanka toured India for 3-Tests, 2 T20Is and 5 ODIs. Mishra was part of the Playing XI in the First Test at Ahmedabad. In the high scoring game, he managed to pick up only 1 wicket giving away103 runs in his 58 overs.
He was duly dropped and replaced by Pragyan Ojha for the second Test, who also went on to retain his place in the third and final Test too.
Mishra was recalled for India’s tour to Bangladesh in January 2010. He played the first-Test at Chittagong, picking up 4 wickets in the first innings and followed it up with another 3 wickets in the second. He also contributed with the bat. In the role of the night-watchman’ in India’s second innings, Mishra scored 50 runs and was involved in a 98-run partnership for the second wicket alongwith Gautam Gambhir.
However, he was dropped and replaced by the left-arm spinner, Pragyn Ojha.
Mishra also played in a couple of ODIs (one each against Sri Lanka and Bangladeshi) in the Tri-nation series at the beginning of the series.
He was selected to the Indian squad that toured England in July 2011 for a series of 4-Tests, lone T20I and 5 ODIs.
He had a pathetic performance in Tests. Playing in 2 Tests, he picked up only 3 wickets giving away 320 runs in 81 overs. Batting in 4 innings, he scored 153 runs and registered his individual best of 84 runs.
Thereafter he went into wilderness only to be recalled for the five-match ODI away series against Zimbabwe in July 2013.
Playing in all 5 games, he was the highest wicket-taker with 18 wickets at an average of 11.61 with 6/48 being his best bowling performance.
In this series Mishra equalled the word record of 18-wicket haul in a bilateral ODI series established by Javagal Srinath, who in fact, achieved this in a 7-match series.
The leg-spinner was part of the Team India squad for the ODI and Test home series against South Africa in October, 2015. Playing 4 out of 5 ODIs, he could pick up only 3 wickets bowling 40 overs and giving away 218 runs.
Playing in 2 Test matches, he could pick up only 7 wickets giving away 121 runs.
Mishra’s performance in the domestic circuit 2015-16 also has not been anything spectacular. Playing in 6 games of Vijay Hazare Trophy, he has been able to pick up only 6 wickets. Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy also was not a good outing for him. Only 8 wickets came to his credit in 4 games.
At 33, he may not have much time left in international cricket. With just Ravichandran Ashwin fighting it out in the spin department, Mishra would do well for himself if he can put up some good performances in the upcoming IPL tournament. Haryana being out of the knock out rounds in Ranji Trophy 2015-16, there is very little scope for Mishra to show case his form and convince the selectors to consider his comeback into the national squad.
He was billed to be the next ‘Anil Kumble’ but he has not been able to live up to that expectation and seal his place in Team India.