Dubai: Amit Mishra, the veteran leg spinner of Delhi Capitals, is the quintessential reluctant hero of Indian Premier League - if there is one. While the Sri Lankan speedster Lasith Malinga walks away with all the glory for being the most successful bowler in the history of IPL with 170 wickets, not many are aware as to who is second in that all-time list.
Now pushing 38 years, the classical leg spinner who has served the Indian cricket team well in all formats till even four years back, has been the perfect example of being there and done that in the richest T20 league in the world. Having made his IPL debut in the inaugural season in 2008, Mishra has been a part of all the 13 editions so far - and it will not be an exaggeration to say that his rich haul of 157 wickets (from 148 matches) went a long way in proving that leg spinners can play a major role in this format.
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A mention of this during a zoom session, facilitated by his team Delhi Capitals ahead of their match against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday, and Mishra is visibly embarrassed. ‘‘When T20 was new, I always ended up hearing that it was not a leg-spinner’s game, and that really motivated me. I always made the effort to make an impact and become more valuable. The role keeps on evolving in every match – sometimes you try to bowl dots, but most of the times you try to be a wicket-taker and that eventually puts pressure on the batting side,” said Mishra.
‘‘A leg spinner has more variety and hence there are more chances of taking wickets. However, it needs a lot of hard work too,’’ said Mishra, the only bowler who has taken three hat-tricks in the IPL. Incidentally, this is his third IPL franchise as Mishra has played for Delhi in their earlier avatar as Delhi Dardevils as well, the now defunct Deccan Chargers as well as Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Mishra, whose exploits as part of the Indian team are no less praiseworthy as he had to step into the legendary Anil Kumble’s shoes, has 76 Test wickets, 64 from ODIs and 16 from T20Is. Has he often felt under-rated for all his achievements? ‘‘I don’t know if I am underrated. I used to think too much earlier, so mind used to get diverted, now I just focus on my job,” he said in response to a query.
Enjoying his current stint with an youthful Capitals, Mishra was all praise for young captain Shreyas Iyer as well as their head coach Ricky Ponting. “I think the fact that he’s (Ricky) played so much cricket at the top level means he knows about the mentality of each individual. He knows how to talk to people and what to say at what moment. He ends up boosting the confidence of all the players and is always positive only.”
Commenting on Shreyas Iyer’s captaincy, Mishra said: “I find him to be a very positive character. The best thing for me is that fact that he gives freedom to his bowlers to choose their fields and set up their plans. He backs you all the time, and I’m sure he will keep on growing as a captain.”