Pacer Mithun gets the raw deal

Despite good perfomances, Karnataka player finds himself in the cold

While Karnataka have every reason to rejoice with four of their players finding places in the Australia-bound teams, one has to feel for paceman A Mithun whose exploits in the domestic circuit continue to be overlooked.

The strapping 24-year-old, who formed the most potent pace attack in the country along with his skipper R Vinay Kumar and HS Sharath, claimed 41 wickets at an average of 24 in Karnataka’s triumphant Ranji campaign this season. He also bagged 15 wickets in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, again won by Karnataka.

The 41 scalps place him third in the list of top-wicket takers last season, behind Rishi Dhawan (49) and Anureet Singh (44). With due respect to Dhawan’s show, one has to weigh in a few factors while analysing his performance. 

The Himachal paceman, with an ability to wield the willow to good effect, played in Group ‘C’ which is formed of relatively ‘weaker’ teams. 

The conditions in the north during winter also played a huge part in pacers’ success. Punjab paceman Anureet, who will fly to Australia as part of the four-day squad, too bagged most of his wickets in the north of India that assist his type of bowling.

Even if one were to overlook these ‘nitpickings’, Mithun had a strong claim to be picked for the four-day squad ahead of someone like Jaspreet Bumrah (38 wickets in 8 matches) who has been selected based on just one good season for Gujarat.

Dhawal Kulkarni, who played just one match last season before missing the rest of the action due to injury, has been included in both four-day and one-day squads. If selectors were looking at experience then with 178 wickets over five seasons, Mithun certainly deserved a look in on the bouncy tracks of Australia.

“I am sad,” Mithun told Deccan Herald, unable to hide his disappointment. “But I remain optimistic that my chance will come. I can’t keep thinking about these things. Yes, I did expect to be picked but then that’s not in my hand. What I have learnt over these years is that I have to be physically and mentally ready when the call comes,” he remarked.

If the heavy presence of Karnataka players -- Robin Uthappa, Karun Nair, KL Rahul and Manish Pandey -- worked against him is a matter of speculation but what can’t be denied is that Mithun, more often than not, has been treated unfairly. He bowled his heart out on the dead-as-dodo surfaces in Sri Lanka on his Test debut in 2010 but was left out of the South African sojourn. 

He, as a reinforcement for the series in West Indies in 2011, did acquit himself well on slow pitches in the Caribbean but was overlooked for the England series again and never got a chance in Australia in 2012. It’s time he is given a decent run -- at least to fail.
Squad for four-day matches: Manoj Tiwary (captain), KL Rahul, Jiwanjot Singh, Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu, Karun Nair, Naman Ojha, Pragyan Ojha, Umesh Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni, Anureet Singh, Rajat Paliwal, Amit Mishra, Sandeep Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, B Aparajith.

Squad for quadrangular series: Robin Uthappa (captain), Unmukt Chand, Manish Pandey, Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwary, Kedar Jadhav, Sanju Samson, Parvez Rasool, Akshar Patel, Dhawal Kulkarni, Rishi Dhawan, Mohit Sharma, Karn Sharma, Rahul Shukla, Manan Vohra, Jaydev Unadkat. 

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