Should Amit Mishra be confined only to ODI cricket?

Team India is pretty settled across formats in international cricket with young guns forming the basic core of the team. However, there is one player in the team, who continues to be part of the ODI and Test squads despite making his debut in 2003. He is none other than Amit Mishra, the famous Indian leg spinner. Mishra was initially called into the Indian squad for a Test against the West Indies in 2002, but was not selected. He made his One Day International (ODI) debut against South Africa during the TVS Cup in 2003. He picked one wicket in form of Neil McKenzie and went for 29 runs in the five overs. In the next match against Bangladesh, he picked up one more wicket and bowled impressively. He was supposed to play in the final against South Africa as well but the match was abandoned due to rain. Despite starting his career on good note, he was not selected in the team again for years because Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh were the first choice spinners. The situation changed in 2008 when Mishra made his Test cricket debut against Australia in the Second Test at Mohali (PCA ground) after captain and first-choice leg spinner Anil Kumble was injured. He took 5 wickets for 71 runs in Australia’s first innings and then 2/35 in the second, making him the leading wicket-taker in the match as India proceeded to a decisive victory. Despite this, Indian coach Gary Kirsten said that Mishra would be dropped if Kumble recovered for the Third Test. However, Harbhajan Singh was injured so Mishra retained his place when Kumble came in. Kumble was then injured during the Test and retired, leaving Mishra as India’s first-choice Test leg spinner. He continued to be part of the team for years before being dropped again in 2011 on account of form and selection issues. He made his comeback in the ODIs in 2013 and was selected in the Test side in 2015. Since then, he has been part of the squad every now and then. If we talk about Test cricket in the ongoing year, he was part of the team, which played against West Indies and New Zealand and is a vital member of the squad in the ongoing five-match Test battle against England. However, he has not performed well against any of the opponents. Apart from the dry wicket column, he is leaking runs at a higher economy rate in Test format of the game, which is not a sign of quality bowler. On the other hand, he has bowled exceptionally well in the ODIs with the last series against New Zealand being the latest example. He was recalled in the squad after almost a year and played every single game, picking up Man of the Series award for his 15 wickets. He took his wickets at an impressive average of just 14.33 and an economy of 4.79. The best part was that he picked up at least two wickets in each and every game. Given the huge contrast in his Test and ODI form, one starts thinking that should he be only considered for one day internationals.

ODI and Test Comparison

In the 19 Tests that Mishra has played, he has taken a total of 68 wickets at an average of 34 and an economy rate of 3.20. Considering the importance of wickets in the longest format, the average is on the higher side and this is not expected from a main stream bowler of the team. In 36 ODIs, Mishra has taken 64 wickets at a relatively much better average of 23.60 and an economy rate of 4.72. This is phenomenal if we take the requirement of the ODI cricket into account. He has not done anything great in Test cricket and it is better to pick up someone else as wickets are crucial to win Test matches.

The Opposition

Before the ongoing series against England, the Indian team played seven Tests against West Indies and New Zealand. These two are not great Test sides and despite it, Mishra struggled to take wickets. R Ashwin, the off spinner, was among the wicket takers and these two teams constantly found life difficult against him. The same can’t be said about Amit Mishra. He could become a liability in the future games so it is better to drop him from the Test team and prolong his career in the ODI set-up.

Age Factor

Amit Mishra is 33 years of age and is not getting younger any more. A bowler requires to bowl longer spells in Test cricket and this where Amit Mishra is not fit as a cricketer. We have seen more often that he loses his line and length if he is asked to bowl longer spells by his captain. The case is different in the ODIs, where a bowler has to bowl a maximum of 10 overs so there is no chance of getting tired. Moreover, the duration of an ODI match is around eight hours which is not tiring for the body. Amit Mishra can derive inspiration from Imran Tahir, who at 37 years of age, is still part of Team South Africa in fifty over game. He is always among the wicket takers, which shows that even Amit Mishra can continue for many more years if he pick ODIs as his preferred format.

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