Amit Mishra

Amit Mishra was India’s most successful bowler on the Zimbabwe tour recently © AFP

It took more than 10 years after making his international debut for Amit Mishra to perform well on a consistent basis against top-quality oppositions. His form in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 and Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2013 would have done his confidence a lot of good. With Ravichandran Ashwin struggling in the ongoing series against Australia, Aayush Puthran feels it is a good time to try out Amit Mishra for the fifth One-Day International (ODI) at Cuttack.

 
India’s bowling in the ongoing One-Day International (ODI) series against Australia, barring Shami Ahmed’s opening spell in the fourth encounter, is nothing short of ordinary. While the pacers have been disappointing, the spinners too haven’t done much to please.

One wonders how the Indian selectors would be dealing with the spin conundrum with an eye on the 2015 ICC World Cup. There is a settled look to the order now with Ravindra Jadeja coming to the fore and Ravichandran Ashwin being a reliable option to lead the attack. But, where in the midst of all this does it leave Amit Mishra out?

With Mishra, the case is rather unfortunate as he has peaked at a time when Ashwin looks well in charge of the role of the lead spinner in the team. Mishra’s exceptional performances in the Indian Premier League and the Champions League T20 this year not been good enough to merit him a place in the side, where at the same time Ashwin is facing a rather dull period.

He might have established himself as a good back-up option for Ashwin, but over the last few years the selectors would done well to notice the fact of how talent has got wasted in the bench, with Manoj Tiwary and Ajinkya Rahane being prime examples.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has shown it in the past as well that he likes to back the players he trusts even when they haven’t been going through the best time. That is how he defended Ishant Sharma’s inclusion in the squad despite his horrendous show in the third of the ongoing series. It is probably the same treatment that he is meting out to Ashwin.

With conditions in Australia not set to favour spin bowling, it is unlikely that India will select Ashwin and Mishra both, given that they are in form and in contention. In such a case, wouldn’t it be better if both the spinners are given equal opportunity to prove themselves against international sides for the next one year going to the World Cup? It would not only allow the player in better form to make it to the starting XI, but also ensure that the back-up option is well prepared.

With Ashwin finding it tough to get his rhythm right and the field placements suggesting that he is keener on bowling a defensive line, it is a good time to bring in Mishra for the fifth ODI. With no leg-spinner in the side, he can add more variation to the attack and probably cause some problems to the Australian batsmen who are feasting on a lackadaisical bowling of the Indians.

(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)