Selectors often stress on the balance of the side whenever they pick a team. Many times players are dropped because they don’t ‘lend balance’.
Amit Mishra has often been a victim of this search for ‘balance’. After ending up as the highest wicket-taker (11 in five ODIs) on India’s tour to the West Indies in 2011, he got a chance to wear the blue jersey only in 2013, when India toured Zimbabwe ---a series in which the key spinners were rested.
In his 13-year long 36-ODI career, Mishra has been fortunate only thrice to play all the games in a five-match series. His latest full series was the New Zealand one-dayers in which the leg-spinner bagged the Man of the Match award in the final match at the ACA-VDCA Stadium here on Saturday as well as the Player of the Series award for his 15 wickets.
The reason he managed to get the full series against the Kiwis was that the selectors decided to rest R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja for the ODIs.
Although Mishra would be hoping now to get a longer run with the Indian team after his heroic 5/18 in the series decider, the leg-spinner has stopped to worry about or try and control things which are beyond his reach.
“I focus a lot more on what’s in my hand, like improving my fitness and my batting. I have stopped thinking about how many matches I have played in so many years because it’s not in my hands,” said the 33-year-old said after the match on Saturday. “I’ve prepared myself mentally in such a way that whenever there’s an opportunity, I give more than 100 per cent.”
Mishra acknowledged coach Anil Kumble’s contribution in his stellar performance against New Zealand and the support he got when Ravi Shastri was Team India Director.
“When I sat out of all the Test matches against New Zealand, he (Kumble) supported me a lot. He would say, ‘Don’t worry, your time will come’,” said Mishra.
The next time when MSK Prasad and his panel of selectors sit down to pick the team for the ODI series against England; Mishra would have every right to believe that he can ‘lend balance’ to the team. And his performance against New Zealand will fight the case for the bowler from Delhi.