Cricket’s Lost Talent! Amit Mishra, bowls perfect leg break but left alone for most of his career

In India everybody wants to be a cricketer and it is very difficult to make a mark, and even if you are half as talented or equally talented as Sachin Tendulkar was, or Anil Kumble was, you would still need more than talent to break into the Indian cricket team. There have been surplus stories of cricketers despite being talented not making it to the Indian team. One such story is of Amit Mishra.

After the spin legend Anil Kumble retired from the Indian cricket team, it was apparent that they needed another leggie to replace him, to partner up with Bhajji and spin the web and there was Amit Mishra. Amit Mishra was given the task of  filling in the ‘Jumbo’ shoes of Kumble. And Amit had a fine start and he became only sixth Indian to take five-wickets on Test debut. He also took five-wickets haul in ODIs as well twice, one against Zimbabwe and New Zealand. But on most occasion playing Harbhajan and Mishra together would prove to be an impossible task. And Harbhajan would get to play ahead of Mishra, since Bhajji was at the peak of his career and in total control of his craft.

Later in most of the cases, Mishra was either brought in as a replacement for a regular spinner and was dropped after just one or two good outings. Mishra made his Test cricket debut against Australia in the 2nd Test at PCA stadium after captain and first-choice leg spinner Anil Kumble was injured. There he took 5 wickets. Despite this, then coach Gary Kirsten said that he would be dropped if Kumble recovered for the 3rd Test. However, because Harbhajan was injured Mishra retained his place with Kumble coming in. Between his Test debut in 2008 and that fateful tour of England in 2011, Mishra was one of Team India’s best bowlers despite never having an assured place in the side.

The leggy made his ODI debut in 2003 in TVS cup against South Africa. Be it Tests, ODI, or T20Is, Mishra has always been in and out of the national team. Mishra was selected for the early-2009 Test tour of New Zealand, but India opted to field only one spinner, and Harbhajan was named.

Critics too argued that he was slow through the air and it was simple to score off him. Meanwhile, some of the criticisms were valid also.

In Indian Premier League, with 134 wickets from 126 innings, Amit Mishra is the second-highest wicket-taker of the tournament behind Mumbai Indians’ Lasith Malinga. He has represented three teams till now, Deccan Charges (2011), Delhi Daredevils (2008) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (2016). And interestingly, he took a hat-trick for each of them. He has also made some useful contributions in the lower order with his timely cameos. And now, he is again brought by the Delhi franchise and it would be interesting to see whether he can create the same magic or not.

The main aspect of his bowling was his ability of taking wickets even as the batsmen is set. He is very confident is knows when to apply his variation and forced the batsman to take a long shot. Meanwhile, for all that Mishra has offered, he deserves every bit of fame.

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