THEY SAY cricket is a batsman’s game. For years, this vastly popular sport has been dominated by batsmen of all kinds. It was no different in Kanpur as India played their first of the five ODIs against South Africa on Sunday. Two tremendously talented batsmen, AB de Villiers and Rohit Sharma ensured the spectators sweating it out in Green Park’s absorbing heat got all their money’s worth.
But amid the sound of sixes and fours and the crowd cheering AB on, there was an anxious leg spinner who couldn’t wait to bowl. Amit Mishra last played a one-day international for India in 2014 against the West Indies. What triggered his return to the ODI set up was his inspiring performance in the Test series against Sri Lanka, and since then Mishy has had no time to look back. He sure didn’t disappoint himself on what was a successful comeback.
“It is a great feeling to come back into the ODI side and straightaway put up a good bowling performance,” Mishra told BCCI.TV in an exclusive interview.
“From here on I would only look to better my performances if I get a chance in the forthcoming ODIs. I feel whenever you play for India you need to have self-confidence. Irrespective of the fact that you are taking wickets or not; the most important thing is to bowl well and pitch the ball in the right areas. I believe I am bowling well at the moment and I am enjoying every bit of it. I am looking to take as many wickets as possible at the moment and bowl according to the match situation”, he added.
When captain MS Dhoni threw the ball to Mishra in the 11th over, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis had already settled at the crease and were looking to build a solid partnership. India were looking for a breakthrough after an early first wicket. Mishra had a plan. He bowled a straight line to Amla, who generally likes playing on the back foot. Amla, surprised by the incoming delivery was eventually beaten and bowled. Obviously, Mishra had thought this through.
“We know that Hashim Amla plays a lot on the back foot. My aim was to bowl a straight line to him and get the ball to brush his pads or get him out bowled.”
Later in the game, Mishra got the dangerous David Miller stumped, which was also part of a plan.
“I knew Miller would try to put pressure on me and try to hit me for runs. But my plan was to keep it tight to him and not give him any runs. Luckily he stepped out and I bowled the perfect delivery that also spun well and led to an easy stumping”, he said.
Two things that stood out in this new, refined version of Amit Mishra were - the flight and loop on his deliveries, and his eagerness to go out there and bowl. This can only mean good news for Indian cricket. Mishra’s return to Test cricket after almost four years was more than just successful. It was an alarm to his critics that he isn’t done yet. And as we’ve seen in the first ODI, his limited-overs form has just begun.