It’s not every day that someone who is drafted in as a last-minute replacement walks away with a five-wicket haul on debut. On Sunday Amit Mishra floored the Australian batting line-up to return figures of 26.4-8-71-5 at an economy rate of 2.66 at the PCA Stadium.
An unlikely hero at a venue which is considered to have a pacer-friendly pitch, Mishra delivered the goods to wrest the initiative for India.
“I aimed at taking a wicket with every ball and I think it worked. I was very positive from the start,” said Mishra, who returned to the Test scene after five years in the wilderness to replace an injured Anil Kumble in the crucial tie.
Recalling the tough times spent playing domestic cricket, Mishra said, “It was a difficult time but I made good use of it learning a lot of variations. I also spent time with many former greats and learned finer points of leg-spin. I knew if I kept performing well the selectors would notice me again,” said Mishra, who burst into the scene with a five-wicket haul against England Under-19 in 2001.
Of his five scalps Mishra cherished the dismissal of Michael Clarke with a clever googly the most. “We needed that wicket to force Australia on the back foot and I was happy to deliver the goods. My task was perhaps made easier by the pitch, which is now helping spin,” Mishra said, adding, “I was not in any kind of pressure playing against Australia. I tried to stick to my normal bowling.”
Mishra, who is now an India Test cricketer comes from a humble background and is the youngest of five siblings, dedicated his performance to his family, which stood by him all these years. “I am dedicating this performance to my family as without their support I know I couldn’t have done it,” said Mishra. Mishra may be axed from the playing XI if Kumble regains full fitness but he said it didn’t matter to him whether he played the next Test or not.
“All I am focused now is to perform whenever I am given a chance. It has been a satisfying debut, wherein many persons have helped me realise my potential. Narendra Hirwani and Anil Kumble have both been supportive, always giving me tips. M.S. Dhoni also showed a lot of faith in me today,” said Mishra. For the moment, though, he can soak up his moment of international glory, and think about the Ranji Trophy in time to come.