Mishra makes most of opportunities
Amit Mishra must feel the pressure to establish himself in the Indian team more than the other untested hopefuls on this tour to Zimbabwe. The wrong side of 30, it had been two years before this tour since Mishra last played an ODI and his tally of 18 ODIs in the ten years since his international debut suggests underuse of his talent.
Yet without the long-term confidence of the selectors on his side, he has little choice but to keep plugging away and make the most of whatever opportunities come his way. With nine wickets in three games in Zimbabwe, including a Man of the Match-winning 4 for 47 on Sunday, he's done just that on this tour.
But while Mishra's performances can't have hurt his chances, when India A head to South Africa in August he'll be heading in the opposite direction. He isn't part of the Cheteshwar Pujara-led group which is staking a claim for India's Test tour of South Africa later this year.
"I'm not in the Test side," Mishra conceded. "I'll try and do my job in the next two matches, and then it's up to the selectors. I've been waiting a long time for this and I'm doing my best and it's working for me now."
Mishra has found particular success with his variations on the traditional legspinner's delivery against Zimbabwe. His front-of-the-hand quicker delivery has helped to tie the Zimbabwe batsmen down, while his googly has brought about six of his nine dismissals .
"I've done lots of hard work on my googlies and variations and it's paying off," he said. "When I came here I was just thinking about the conditions and how to bowl on these kinds of tracks. I've spoken a lot with TP [Trevor Penney] and Duncan [Fletcher] who have given me a few tips, which I've been working hard on."
With so many of the touring Indians hoping to use this trip to win further honours with the national side, Mishra suggested that their was a positive competitive streak among his team-mates. "All the players have done so well in domestic cricket, so they came here with the confidence," he said.
"There's a lot of healthy competition going on - everyone wants to do well for India, so it's working for the Indian team."
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town