Mumbai: The last time Amit Mishra played in a one-day International for India, he was declared the player of the match for his match winning performance. In the fifth ODI against New Zealand at Vizag in October, 2016, the leggie scalped five wickets to help India beat the visiting team by 190 runs and clinch the series 3-2.
According to the principles of natural justice, one would have expected Mishra to play in the first ODI against England in Pune, on Sunday. But the spinner’s place in the team was taken by India’s premier bowler Ravichandran Ashwin. In fact the spin combination of left-arm spinner Axar Patel and leg spinner Mishra, that India regularly used against New Zealand were replaced by Ashiwn and Ravindra Jadeja.
While Jadeja proved to be India’s most economical bowler in Pune, Ashwin had a night to forget. The off-spinner leaked 63 runs in eight overs at an economy rate 7.87, Ashwin’s worst bowling figure in any ODI in which he has bowled more than five overs. The ICC No. 1 bowler in Tests also failed to pick up a single wicket. It has been also the offie’s first ODI since January 15, 2016.
In Pune, Ashwin persisted with the round-the-wicket line to contain runs and the Ashwin of Tests, one who always goes for wickets was missing. On batting friendly pitches and in small grounds, which is going to be the norm in this series, a wicket-taking bowler is a bigger asset than a bowler who can contain batsmen. And the very fact makes a case for leggie Mishra.
The Haryana bowler is natural turner of the ball and his recent performances across limited over formats have only established his wicket-taking credentials. A wicket-taking bowler will help India’s cause in the series and will eventually help in taking the pressure off batsmen.
However, inclusion of Mishra in place of Ashwin for the second ODI looks improbable. Not just because the Chennai bowler is India’s premier bowler and a better batsman than Mishra, but also cause the present series is significant in terms of preparing for the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy.
Before the start of the series, Captain Virat Kohli had said, "We are taking these three games as knockout games in our own heads because we need to prepare for Champions Trophy and we need to be in the right kind of frame because the tournament is like that – it is very competitive and very quick. So we need to be at our best from game one of the series.
The ICC tournament was one of the biggest reasons behind bringing back Jadeja and Ashwin into the ODI squad after giving them a rest against New Zealand. And even though Ashwin struggled in the first ODI, he is set to retain his place in the team. It might sound harsh, but at the moment, it looks like Mishra would have to play the waiting game.