Mishra justifies faith

Mishra justifies faith

Leg-spinner has been impressive in one-day series

Ashwin was in fabulous form in IPL IV, playing a vital part in Chennai Super Kings’ title-winning run, and it seemed as if his place in the playing eleven in the West Indies would be a natural progression. But the Indian management’s line of thinking was clear, and Mishra has paid them back with a brilliant show.

He has taken nine wickets from four matches at an impressive economy rate of 3.82, and the figures can’t exactly reflect the true value of his performance. West Indian batsmen had little clue in how to tackle the Haryana leg-spinner, who has relied more on subtle variations of angle and pace to fox his rivals than on prodigious spin he’s capable of.

Mishra’s talent was never in doubt, but he has always been considered as a bit of a ‘loose’ bowler, giving a boundary ball in almost every over as his overall economy rate of 4.51 will suggest. But against the West Indies, Mishra has tightened up his act noticeably, never letting the opposition take control of him.

Earlier, Mishra had shown a tendency to rely too much upon his googly to winkle the batsmen out, making him somewhat predictable. Here, the Haryana bowler has been more intelligent, mixing up his deliveries while keeping the batsmen on their toes with a nagging line. Mishra has formed a potent alliance with senior spinner Harbhajan Singh, and they have taken 13 wickets between them in the series.

Skipper Suresh Raina couldn’t have been happier to see both his premier spinners firing in unison. “Both Bhajji and Mishra have been excellent in their own ways in this series, taking wickets and not giving too many runs away. Mishra works very hard at net sessions and the result is there for all to see,” Raina said.

West Indian skipper Darren Sammy too admitted that Mishra has been a difficult customer. “Yeah, he has given us some really tough moments. In fact, he is very difficult to get away, and clearly the best bowler from either side. When someone bowls that well, you have not many options other than wait for an off-day for him,” Sammy said.

That off-day doesn’t seem to come as Mishra continues to thrive on the slow West Indian wickets, giving him home-like conditions. Mishra was nearly unplayable throughout the first two one-dayers at the Queens Park Cricket Club at Port of Spain, where the pitch was slow and low.

But is it fair to give all the credit to the nature of pitch in the Caribbean for Mishra’s success? India’s bowling coach Eric Simmons doesn’t think so. “You won’t find a harder worker than Mishra at nets as he keeps training to understand his craft better, and some days we have to drag him out. He now gets that drift, which is very important for a leg-spinner, and his attitude and commitment also has been fantastic,” Simmons said.

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