When he spun the Australians-a star-studded one at that-into a tizzy with his spin, flight and guile back in 2008, Amit Mishra was hailed as a definitive answer to a perturbing query facing Indian cricket. What or who after Anil Kumble? Some experts even went on to tout him as the saviour of classical leg-spin. The portly Mishra after all possessed loop, drift, a ripping leg-break and of course a tantalizing googly, all qualities that have historically gone into the making of a quality leg-spinner. His approach of focusing on his inherent strengths and trying to avoid too many variations also propped him up as a throwback to the golden era of spin.
Five years on though, Mishra has somehow failed to realize the destiny that many had prophesized for him after that dominating performance against Ricky Ponting & Co. While he’s been in and out of the Test team, battling for the second spinner’s slot with Pragyan Ojha and Piyush Chawla, his ODI appearances have remained even more scattered. Going into Sunday, Mishra’s 17 ODIs had been strewn over 10 years. In fact, it was only the third occasion in his career that the 30-year-old had been given three ODIs on the trot.
Mishra’s day out
Despite having lived life on the fringes for over a decade, Mishra has always laid claim to being a genuine wicket-taker across all formats like any leg-spinner worth his salt.
And at the Harare Sports Club, he lived up to his reputation, chipping away at the Zimbabwean batting line-up and finishing with figures of 4/47 as India cruised to an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the five-match series. Mishra’s exploits, aided by impressive support from the likes of Mohammad Shami and Ravindra Jadeja, was instrumental in the visitors’ commanding show with the ball with Zimbabwe being bowled out for 183. Skipper Virat Kohli then led the way for the umpteenth time in a run-chase, remaining unbeaten on 68, after Shikhar Dhawan had provided a typically aggressive start, the eventual finish arriving with almost 15 overs to spare.
The first half of the day though belonged to Mishra. Prior to the Zimbabwean series, he had spent two tournaments warming the bench, battling the chilly English climes followed by the heat and humidity of the Caribbean. With R Ashwin rested, it was inevitable that Mishra would finally get a go. As inevitable as the fact that he