Having picked up seven wickets in four matches for Delhi Daredevils, leg-spinner Amit Mishra is making a mark as an attacking bowler. He played defining roles against KXIP and Mumbai Indians, helping the team pull off initial wins.
Mishra has been varying his deliveries but one of his weapons is the googly, which he says he has improved during the time he was off India duty.
Excerpts from HT’s interview with Mishra:
How have you improved your googly, which seems to be doing quite a bit of damage in this edition of the IPL? You are not going wide to bowl the googly but delivering it from the same spot as the leg spin.
Yes, I’ve worked out the timing of the googly; when it should be bowled and the length at which it should land. I have focused a lot on that. I have worked on two variations of the googly --- one that skids after pitching and the other is the usual one. I have put in a lot of effort in learning these deliveries and making sure they land at the desired length.
When did you start practicing them? Was it during the India-South Africa Test series or the time in between international cricket and the IPL?
I had started work on them during the India-South Africa Test series but the bulk of the training was done after the series. I have worked really hard on my fitness and it has helped me in my bowling.
Were you disappointed when you were not picked for limited-overs cricket? Or, did you take it in your stride to improve your bowling skills?
There is always room of improvement. Whenever I am not in the India team, I am thinking of ways to improve my bowling or what I can include in my variations to make a comeback. Obviously, I get disappointed and, I am sure, everybody who is not in the team gets disappointed. But I take it as a positive. I think that when I come back, I need to be a different and better bowler.
Do you think the reason for you being dropped from the ODI and T20 teams is your bowling, or is it your fitness considering your performance in Tests was almost outstanding?
I am not sure, but it could be the reason. That is why I am working hard on my fitness so that in future there is no reason as such to be dropped from the side. I am trying to improve everything, be it bowling, batting or fitness.
How important is it to vary speed as a wrist spinner?
The way batsmen are playing the switch hit, and many other shots, you have to understand the situation and vary the bowling.
With Imran Tahir and you being different bowlers, what is the strategy when you bowl in tandem?
It is good to have a partnership between bowlers. We speak to each other about how we are going to bowl and it benefits us both because sometimes, he picks up wickets and on other days I am the one picking wickets. Last year, batsmen were defensive against me but attacked him. It also depends on the situation you are in, and both of us have different styles but common thinking.
You have been playing IPL from the start. How have you evolved as a leg-spinner?
Batsmen in those days were never good players of spin but now they come up with innovative shots. No doubt, we have (also) gained in experience and there is a lot of difference in my thinking. In terms of evolution, bowling is getting difficult by the day. If you are confident and know you can get a batsman out by putting pressure on him, certainly you can perform on this stage.
What is your idea of bowling against players like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, and how do you handle pressure when they get going?
Against De Villiers and Virat Kohli, you need to have a clear mind on what delivery you are going to bowl. Against such players, I always attack and think how I can pick their wickets, what options I have to put them in a fix, rather than focus on what shots they play. Even if they are playing big shots, I am happy because I have a chance to get them out.
Do you think one of the reasons you are doing well is Zaheer Khan’s captaincy?
Zaheer has been an attacking bowler and he has dominated world cricket for 9-10 years. He knows that if we manage early wickets, we can put the opposition under pressure. He knows I am a wicket-taker, so we plan how to go after wickets and think about other things later.
Wrist spinners have done well this season, but what ails off-spinners?
Sometimes a batsman calculates and gets defensive against a certain bowler. It depends on the situation as well. Bhajji and R Ashwin are world-class bowlers and bowling really well, but in certain situations batsmen decide to take them easy and not give them wickets. But it is not that off-spinners are not doing well. In this format, anybody can get hit for runs. But being defensive is also a big way to maintain the pressure.