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Amit Mishra: The next big thing

We have heard about him. We know him as a leg spinner, as the captain of the Haryana Ranji team; hail him as the next big thing from the Haryana cricket circle, writes Heena Zuni Pandit.

india Updated: Oct 10, 2008 23:21 IST
Heena Zuni Pandit

We have heard about him. We know him as a leg spinner, as the captain of the Haryana Ranji team; hail him as the next big thing from the Haryana cricket circle.

We call him - Amit Mishra.

Mishra who has been picked up in the 15-member squad for the first two tests against the visiting Australian team is another sports icon form Haryana. Though the 25 year old leggie calmly says he is 'happy' after the selection, the man has lot more to tell.

The boy, that was Mishra
Mishra begin playing when he was in class 6th and like any other kid he too was 'non-serious' about the game until he realized that he just cant take it for granted.

He was from a lower middle class family with his father SM Mishra employed with Railways and had to look after a family
of 4 sons and three daughters. They use to reside in a single room flat and living was not intricate.
"We have a big family, and playing was not that easy… I could not have risked my carrier for something where I was not sure of any income," said Mishra.

But these hardships could not keep Mishra away from game and he continued to play only becoming serious about it.

Coach and training

He then came under the tutelage of Sanjay Bharadwaj, who had just started his coaching carrier after a degree from NIS, Patiala.

"He was a batsman," reveals Bharadwaj. "He was amazingly talented and attacking but at the same time he never knew about his abilities. He is a genuine turner of the ball and an aggressive batsman too," said Bharadwaj. Noticing his ability to spin the ball, Mishra's coach never let him bat even for the first two years even if he wanted to.

This proved to be a turning point in his learning process as the time he spent with the ball sharpened his skills and that's the reason why he could use it so intelligently.

Testing time
After all the necessary grooming, Mishra was ready to face the hard, competitive and the 'dreadful' world of cricket. "It seems nice on net but when it came to selections (at whatever level), you know what lies under the carpet," says Mishra.
By now he has proved his worthiness.

But the first blow came when the Delhi kid was 'overlooked' by his own state and hence he makes a move to Haryana in 2000. Haryana needed a leg spinner at that time and Mishra was the perfect option they were looking for. He was picked in the U-17 team but despite selected as a spin specialist, Mishra performed with bat and not with ball.

He gave away 26 runs in just two overs!
But he was bestowed with the kindness of the then Secretary of the Haryana Cricket Association (HCA), Ranbir Singh Mahindra, who showed trust in him and given him enough chances to show his capabilities.

This was the only thing that he needed --- in his very next match against Delhi, he bowled out them for just 85 --- from here he took 55 wickets in the whole season, played U-19 India the same year followed by Ranji trophy where he took 32 wickets.

Gambhir and Mishra
Both Gambir and Mishra started their carrier almost the same time but the lefty opener was fortunate to cement his place in the national side as opposed to his bowling partner.

A few know that Gambir and Mishra are a complement to each other and had always sought pleasure in each other's success.

" I use to sit in front of TV set in a hope that maybe this time, my name will be there but it was only Gautam's name that could bring a smile on my face…the only saving grace," Mishra said explaining his friendship.

Limelight
Mishra first caught the eye while tormenting the England Under-19 tourists early in 2001 with the odd fizzing googly.

He was called into a large Indian squad for the West Indies series at home in October 2002, but disappointingly, was not given a chance. Next, the absence of several senior players after the World Cup led to another call-up for the TVS Cup in Dhaka in 2003.

Since then, though, he was dropped off the selectors' radar, only resurfacing in 2007, when called up to the A team to take on South Africa A in two four-day matches at home.

Another incidence that left him distress happened six years ago.

A huge blow came in 2002 when he was playing for Board President' XI against Zimbabwe in Vijaywada. Mishra picked-up six wickets that included a 'magic ball' --- on which he bowled the Zimbabwe captain Alistair Campbell --- that took his leg stump fleeing away. Soon after he was hailed as the next big thing in the Indian spin world, termed as Shane Warne and was flag down as the 'hope' for the Indian side.

Incidentally, Gautam Gambhir's too scored 218 in the same match.

But neither Mishra, nor Gambhir was picked. The surprised media asked Chandu Borde, the then selector: "Why Gambhir's double century is not considered?"

Borde replied: The Vijaywada pitch is a 'batting paradise' and one can hit a century there. People then asked him about why Mishra's six-wicket haul is overlooked on the 'batting paradise'?

This time Borde has nothing to say.

Raring to go
Soon, Gambhir don the India colours but Mishra was still waiting until October 1 when he once again got the call. "Six years is a long time. Its enough for one to give up, enough to fill dishearten actually its enough for anything else," said Mishra.

He ended the 2007 first-class season with an impressive 46 wickets in 11 games. Those performances convinced the selectors to include him in the Test squad against the Australians.

"Can't wait to be there and bowl," concludes a hopeful and delighted Mishra.