It's been exactly 11 months since Amit Mishra's left foot last landed beyond the popping crease at the bowler's end in the shortest format of the game.
In that time, a substantial part of which was spent nursing an injury, the leggie has played 16 matches of longer durations. In 18 of the
22 innings, Mishra sent down more than four overs; 16 of those spells saw him overstep at least once.
One of those occasions, a Duleep Trophy semifinal last October, saw Mishra cross the line 15 times in the course of 41 overs on a rather unhelpful pitch; afterwards, he had said, "With no response from the surface, I've had to put in an extra effort, which is why I've overstepped so many times."
Fair enough. But other, equally valid reasons exist — not on the ground, which happened to be Uppal during the Duleep Trophy as well as the T20 nearly a year ago, but in the head.
And while the assurance of not being required to bowl more than four overs was a factor in the domestic Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy too, playing a part in easing the pressure on Mishra's mind ahead of Sunrisers Hyderabad's clash against Kings XI Punjab here on Friday is the fact that he is part of a bowling unit that has been operating like a well-oiled machine.
Having a ball
Defending a measly 119 against Pune Warriors on Wednesday, Hyderabad's bowlers did not concede even a single extra. Mishra wrapped things up with four wickets in five balls; at home against the same opposition earlier in the season, it was Dale Steyn who brought about a hasty end, taking three off the match's last four. Sadly, a strong bowling attack can only take a team so far in this format.
Playing on sluggish turfs, at home as well as Pune and the Kotla, worked to their advantage. Out of six matches so far, they have won four, none thanks to the batsmen. That both the matches they have lost were played on good batting surfaces will be weighing heavy on the Sunrisers' mind, as will another particular statistic.
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