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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Amit Mishra spins back to Indian Team - not another Jason Gillespie !!

Perhaps Amit Mishra is not India’s Jason Gillespie – there are fair chances that he might get to play another test.

Legspinner Amit Mishra has been recalled to India's Test squad for the tour of Sri Lanka in August.   Amit, 32, last played a Test in 2011 and he took leg spinner Karn Sharma's place in the team that had travelled to Bangladesh in June. It was the only change to India's 15-man squad.  Mishra has not played a Test since the 2011 tour of England, where he played two matches and took three wickets at an average of 106.66. In the 2014-15 Ranji Trophy season, Mishra played six matches for Haryana and took 10 wickets at an average of 20.40.  "Amit Mishra has always been part of our thinking," India's chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil said in Delhi.

Opener KL Rahul had missed the Test in Bangladesh because of dengue fever and his replacement Shikhar Dhawan made a hundred in that game, leaving India with three openers - M Vijay being the third - to choose from in Sri Lanka. The selectors have not picked a reserve wicketkeeper in the squad as back up for Wriddhiman Saha. "We have a standby wicketkeeper we have nominated," Patil said.

Amit Mishra has a fine action.  He has played 13 Tests taking 43 wickets at an economy of 3.19; average of 43.30 and SR of 81.3; besides he has 45 One day wickets in 27 matches and 11 T20 wickets too.   In Apr 2013, he became the first bowler in IPL to get 3 hat-tricks after helping Sunrisers Hyderabd clinch a win against PUne Warriors.  In the 19th over, Pune were comfortably placed with 14 runs to get with 4 wickets in hand.  Mishra picked up a hattrick enabling a win.

His last Test was in Aug 2011 at Kennington Oval, London Test no. 2004 when Indians were defeated by an innings and 8 runs. He had a good 144 run partnership with Sachin, whose missing a century was much talked about.  In that test Bell (235) and Pietersen (175) amassed runs to pile a total of 591/6 decl.  Mishra had forgettable figures of 38-3-170-0.  In the 1st Innings, Indians were bowled out for 300 – Rahul Dravid opening and carrying his bat through for 146.

Following on, India lost Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman at 118 and Amit was sent as a night watchman to join Tendulkar.  After battling for long, and when it appeared a draw was the most likely result – Amit got out at 262 making 84; Sachin too followed at the same score having made 91 and India folded for 283.

He made his Test debut at Mohali in Test no. 1889 against Australians in Oct 2008. Sourav Ganguly’s century and Sachin’s 88 took India to 469.  Ponting led Aussies were bowled out for 268.  Debutant Mishra had figures of 26.4-8-71-5 which remains his best bowling performance in a Test.

His entry in to ODI was in Apr 2003 when India beat South Africa by 153 runs at Dhaka in TVS Cup.  In Oct 2002, he was picked up in the National team to play visiting West Indies when Cricinfo wrote -   If the Indian team picked this afternoon lined up in a row - Usual Suspects style - Amit Mishra would be the Kevin Spacey character, the complete misfit. In a gallery of stars, he is the anonymous man - but one who might conceivably be an inspired selection. There are two very distinct schools of thought when it comes to his inclusion in the 14.   The first suggests that he is a pick for the future - having taken wickets against Zimbabwe in a tour game a few months ago - and that being in the same squad as Anil Kumble, the country's premier legspinner, will help him to further hone his craft. The second view is more interesting, if you're the sort that enjoys conspiracy theories. Cast your mind back 14 summers to the Chennai Test match against West Indies and a virtual unknown named Narendra Hirwani decimating what was then easily the most formidable team in the world - Viv Richards growling, "One swallow doesn't a summer make" afterwards (with great prescience as it turned out, when you consider Hirwani's plummeting career graph). There is a feeling that the selectors might intend for Mishra to be a similar lightning flash, especially against a team packed with left-handers and missing Brian Lara. There are certainly similarities in the way he bowls. Mishra is neat and organised, a tad conservative in his approach and not one to experiment drastically with length and flight.

Now if you are to connect : Jason Gillespie, Mark Boucher, Tony Mann, Syed Kirmani, Nasim ul Ghani….they are all batsmen who came in as nightwatchmen and scored a century.  Mark Boucher did it twice. Tony Mann did against Bedi’s Indians at Perth in 1977.  Alex Tudor (England) was close to making a century as a nightwatchman; he made 99 not out against New Zealand in 1999 at Edgbaston, and was stranded one run short of a maiden test century when the target of 208 runs for victory was achieved.
Remember that way back in 1978, Kapil Dev was sent out as a night watchman – hit a towering six and when he got back at the close of play, the captain Bishan Bedi chided him for doing what he did – scoring runs – hitting a six !!!  ~ so theoretically, nightwatchman is expected to defensively bat it out and not try to score runs – ruling out any risks  !!!  (no risks and nothing associated with Insurance !!!!)
Jason Neil Gillespie played for Ahmedabad Rockets in ICL… played with distinction for Australia in 71 tests and 97 One dayers taking 259 test wickets and 142 ODI wickets… he made 1218 runs including an unbeaten 201 against Bangladesh, which unfortunately was the last Test he ever played.   In Test No. 1799 at Chittagong stadium in April 2006 –Australia won by an innings and 80 runs.  Jason Gillespie walked in as a nightwatchman at 120/2 – scored unbeaten at 201, taking the total to 581/4.... he thus has the unique distinction of the  first  (and only one thus far) nightwatchman to score a double-century. Bangladesh made 197 and 304.  His figures of 3/11 & 0/14 with that double ton won him the Man of the match as also the Player of the Series….after that series he went in to oblivion and never played for Australia again is the irony !!!
With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

23rd July 2015

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