Prima facie there is nothing wrong with Amit Mishra. He has control, the classical leg-spinner’s make up and the heart to flight the ball.
Yet, he is benched often in the team’s interest. He once joked that he had more visas than matches to his name. Mishra has often found himself pitted against a bowler with better batting skills, notwithstanding the former’s strengths — economy, strike rate and average.
Despite playing just 29 ODIs, Mishra has proved himself. His 48 wickets have come at an average of 24.22 with an impressive economy of 4.56 and a strike rate of 31.8. This can excite any captain, but Mishra is seen more in the dugout than on the field.
In Kanpur, he was the lone bowler who emerged unscathed when AB de Villiers was slaying everyone. Yet, the best bowler of the match had to make way for a pacer in Indore. His relevance is undeniable, and the captain too admitted that it was not easy to keep his best bowler out of the team. “Mishra was our best bowler in the last game but we had to drop him as we wanted No 7 to bat. Axar (Patel) gives us that option because in modern day you can’t play with six batsmen and five bowlers. You need someone who can bat at No 7 and the few who can are Stuart Binny, (Ravindra) Jadeja and Axar,” Dhoni had reasoned in Indore.
“It makes it impossible to think about Mishra batting at No 7 followed by Harbhajan (Singh) or Harbhajan followed by Mishra. It puts too much pressure on the batsmen.”
Mishra’s supposed weakness with the bat has kept him out of the eleven, but stats tell another tale. He has three half-centuries in Tests, and in ODIs lack of opportunities has prevented him from showing his skills.
In Rajkot, Mishra kept the South Africa batsmen in check with his googlies. The leg-spinner drew Hashim Amla out of the crease to have him stumped, and his faster ones cramped the batsmen. All this reiterated how much he brings to the table.
Frustrated by rejection season after season despite impressive showings in the domestic championship, Mishra once confronted a chairman of selector and asked him what he needed to do to get into the India team. The selector shooed him away with the words, “You do your work, I will do mine.”
After being benched often, Mishra has changed his stance and accepted whenever opportunities have come his way. After all, he can do what is in his control --- to spin the ball and take wickets.