Royal Challengers Bangalore v Delhi Daredevils, IPL 2010, Bangalore March 25, 2010

Amit Mishra stays classical in Twenty20

A legspinner thriving on Twenty20 cricket is a rare sight, and that Mishra does it with flight and drift is refreshing

Jacques Kallis isn't often bowled by googlies. Legspinners don't bowl the first ball of a Twenty20 innings; that job is better left to bowlers of fast offbreaks, if at all a spinner is needed. Legspinners don't go round the stumps and beat a batsman in the flight, and then the wicketkeeper with sharp turn. Classical legspinners, Shane Warne excepted, are anyway not welcome in Twenty20 cricket. Amit Mishra has done all that, without giving up on the basics of orthodox legspin bowling.

On Thursday, with Royal Challengers Bangalore off to a good start in their chase, Delhi Daredevils were hurtling towards the bottom of the table when Mishra was introduced. The opposition at 55 for 0 in seven overs is no time to be brought on in a Twenty20 game. Kallis and Manish Pandey had not yet gone manic, and after a solid beginning the assault was expected. People in the stands behind extra cover (for Kallis) and midwicket for Pandey) were bracing themselves.

Mishra would have been forgiven had he started with a flat delivery, just to test the waters. But no. Out came a loopy legbreak first ball, followed by another, and by the end of a four-run over he had also surprised Pandey with a googly. In his next over came the real delicious blow.

It was only a matter of time before Kallis would look to go inside-out, and he did it to the fifth ball he faced from Mishra. This one turned out to be the googly, and Kallis was left stranded. Robin Uthappa came out and reverse-swept him first ball for four. Mishra's response was to flight the next ball even more.

In the next over, the pressure created by Mishra yielded two Bangalore wickets, and the whole game had come down to Uthappa. He has been in superb form this IPL, be it with lusty straight hitting, the cute reverse-sweeps or late-cuts. Mishra v Uthappa seemed like the contest that would settle the match. A big over would put Bangalore on course, a wicket or even a tight over would make Delhi the favourites.

Mishra's captain, Dinesh Karthik, played ball and kept him on. Both Uthappa and Eoin Morgan tried to put him off by reverse-sweeping him. Not happening. When Uthappa went for his final, fatal, reverse-sweep, Mishra shortened the length slightly, which meant the ball bounced slightly more, and the edge was taken. Three overs of smart, classical legspin, and the match was won.

This performance from Mishra was no fluke. Since his hat-trick and five-for in the first IPL, Mishra has been an important part of Delhi's line-up. His IPL performance was, in fact, the nudge that reminded the selectors of his first-class exploits and put him ahead of Piyush Chawla in the spinners' pecking order. Mishra will also agree that he has been a better bowler in Twenty20s than Tests; that the batsmen are under pressure to go after him helps him get his wickets. This is another rare sight: a legspinner thriving on Twenty20 cricket. That he does it with flight and drift is refreshing.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Aditya on March 26, 2010, 15:26 GMT

    Its a shame for Indian selectors for not picking him and going for Piyush instead. Go Mishi Go. Get Ipl for DD.....

  • Raj on March 26, 2010, 8:29 GMT

    Intelligent guy who rarely loses his enthusiasm, such a great asset for any captain in any format and yes he needs to be groomed well.

  • Agnel on March 26, 2010, 6:48 GMT

    Zaniac, you are right - same with me, I have done that in Bahrain with my faster leg spin a la Kumble or Afridi (not the classical one like Amit). But to be frank, cement wickets for a leg spinner is a Santa gift and with batsmen thriving on cross batted shots more than the classical cover drives or on drives, we can get wickets if we have good catchers at midwicket, long on and point (for the edge). The world is not ready to accept the fact that T20 cricket has thrived in middle east (read Dubai, Bahrain, Muscat, Doha, Kuwait, even Saudi) with Asian cricketers using the format for their Friday morning/afternoon activity. Long before they started using it commercially. About Amit, thankfully selectors found out quickly that he was a good bet. But I think his struggles in test matches is worrying. Piyush has now gained a lot of experience playing in English county championship, he should be retried for test matches. But T20, yes Amit rules.

  • Dummy4 on March 26, 2010, 5:05 GMT

    Mishra is an excellent spinner...I am a big fan of delhi dare devils..I am getting more confidence while he bowls for delhi...His hat trick against decan is unforgettable

  • venkataramana rao on March 26, 2010, 2:40 GMT

    zaniac, then u shd apply for the IPL. who knows thats where u will make the moolah...mishra has been brilliant simply put... even in tests, he needs to be given a aggressive field and a solid backing. somewhere i fell Dhoni did not fully believe in him. that might change now

  • Michael on March 26, 2010, 1:49 GMT

    Really should have gotten the MoM award, but for some reason they never give those to bowlers :(

  • shyam on March 26, 2010, 1:11 GMT

    Has Robin Uthappa reverse swept his outside chance of making the T20 world cup team ? What a poor shot it was !! he seems to bitten by the reverse sweeping bug this time.

  • Satish on March 25, 2010, 22:54 GMT

    @zaniac: Good for you man. Why don't you a get fat contract in IPL if you can do all that? Cement wickets and just have to say something, don't you? I guess you also do it with a taped or a tennis ball. I though you were smart until you posted that comment!!!! FYI.

  • abdul rehman on March 25, 2010, 20:15 GMT

    mate i have been playing 20/20 cricket on CEMENT wickets in Dubai for 6 years now and have done all that Mishra has done!! just FYI :)

  • Venkataraghavan on March 25, 2010, 18:43 GMT

    A very very clever and excellent bowler India has got. India has to just ensure that he is not put under pressure to bowl flatter. His bowling is really very beautiful.

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