Not many may be following the current ODI series between India and Zimbabwe owing to the one-sided nature of the series. Also, this is not such a high-profile cricket event even with India taking part since Zimbabwe are among the weakest sides in international cricket. This simply explains why India haven’t toured the country for a bilateral series over the last decade. It is also the reason why India haven’t sent a full-strength team to the South African nation. It is not surprising that India have already clinched the series with two games to go. The biggest gain for the team from this series though would be if some of the non-regular players make their presence felt.
Amit Mishra is definitely one of the players for whom this series is extremely important. He has been out of the Indian squad for a couple of seasons and, in the interim, Ravichandran Ashwin has established himself as the team’s main spin bowler. The leggie was drafted into the squad only because Ashwin, like many other regular members of the side, has been given a well-deserved rest for the current series. To his credit Mishra has grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
In all the three games played so far, the leg-spinner has been at the top of his game. Of course, it is a known fact that Zimbabwe are exceedingly poor players of spinners. Still, Mishra needed to perform to leave his impression on the series, and tillnow he has been successful in his endeavour. All his variations have been very tough to pick for the inexperienced Zimbabwe batsmen. Most of them have looked completely out of sorts against the spinner. It is not surprising then that Mishra is presently the leading wicket-taker in the tournament.
While Mishra’s impressive performance wouldn’t guarantee him a spot in the playing eleven when Ashwin returns to the squad, it would at least keep him in contention for a place in the team in case of an injury or loss of form to the regular bowlers in the squad. Also, if Mishra continues to do well for the rest of this tour as well, the selectors would find it difficult to drop him for the upcoming assignments. This is exactly why Mishra shouldn’t be satisfied with his achievements so far on the tour. On the contrary, he must try and pick up as many wickets as possible.
With his international career not having taken off as expected, Mishra should be hungry to make the most of his limited opportunities. He made his international debut a decade back against South Africa at Dhaka. In 2008, he revived his career with a sensational Test debut against Australia, grabbing a five-for at Mohali. Again, he could not extent his successful stint for long. Mishra will turn 31 this November, which means time is soon running out for him. As for now, he has kept his name in the reckoning, but only consistent performances can extent his erratic international career.
--By A Cricket Analyst