India’s previous international assignment in Visakhapatnam, a One-day International against New Zealand late last month, resulted in a thumping 190-run win. However, the bowling hero of that match, leg-spinner Amit Mishra, has been sidelined by the team management from the ongoing Test against England.
Mishra picked a fifer in that ODI to be named the Man-of-the-Match and was also the Man-of-the-Series for his rich haul of 15 wickets in the five-match series.
Mishra paid the price for not clicking in the drawn first Test in Rajkot, though his spin partners R Ashwin and R Jadeja too were far from threatening on a good pitch that featured six centuries in all.
Former India skipper, Sunil Gavaskar, slammed the decision to replace Mishra with debutant off-spinner Jayant Yadav. The team management’s argument appeared to be the six left-handers in the England line-up.
“It is surprising and disappointing that Amit Mishra has been dropped,” Gavaskar told news channel NDTV. He had earlier advised India against dropping Mishra on the basis of his performance in Rajkot.
“I think he has been made a scapegoat for India’s failure to bowl out England in Rajkot. England made 537 in the first innings and 200 plus in the second without losing too many wickets, they’ve made him a scapegoat for that. In fact, in the second innings, he picked two of the three wickets.”
England’s first innings 537 was made possible due to India’s sloppy catching. As many as five chances were put down by Indian fielders, three of them in the first six overs of the match while all-rounder Ben Stokes was grassed twice, in Umesh Yadav’s successive overs by keeper Wriddhiman Saha.
Mishra has had a roller-coaster ride with the India team. Despite being the premier leg spinner in the country, he has been in the mix but never been a certainty.
On the West Indies tour in July-August, he was dropped after India failed to seal the second Test despite taking a 304-run first-innings lead. Mishra took two of the wickets as West Indies ended on 388/6 to ensure a draw.
When MS Dhoni was Test skipper, Mishra was barely given opportunities. With Kohli taking over, he had started to get chances more regularly, but this latest setback is bound to hurt the morale of the 33-year-old.