Team India’s current squad consists of mostly youngsters out of which only a few made their debut during the twilight of the Fab Four’s careers. This young contingent has been dominant in all three formats of cricket and if they can maintain their consistency, this Indian team might even go on to win the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England.
Although there are a lot of youngsters in this squad, there is one member of the current squad who made his national team debut way back in 2003 but is still active in both the Test and ODI team and that player is Amit Mishra.
Mishra had made his ODI debut for India during the TVS cup tri-series between India, South Africa, and Bangladesh just after the 2003 Cricket World Cup. He made his ODI debut against South Africa at Dhaka only two days after Gautam Gambhir made his debut against Bangladesh at the same venue.
Mishra went for 29 runs in the five overs he bowled and Neil McKenzie was his first scalp in international cricket. Mishra played another match during that series and was supposed to play in the final as well only for the match to be abandoned.
Although the 33-year-old was excelling in the domestic circuit, the presence of Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble in the team prevented him from playing another match for India until 2008 when he made his Test debut against Australia at Mohali, and took seven wickets in that match, that included a five-wicket haul in the first innings.
Mishra soon became a regular in the team roster until 2011 when he was dropped again, but returned to the national setup after a couple of years and despite his age, is still a regular in the Test and One-Day team. This year, the Delhi-born player was included in the Test team for the tour of West Indies and for the home series against New Zealand.
He is also in the squad facing England at home. During the West Indies tour, Mishra played in the first two Tests at North Sound and Kingston respectively and took a total of six wickets in both Tests combined, at an average of 38.67.
He was benched during all three Tests against New Zealand and in the first Test against England at Rajkot, Mishra conceded 98 runs and took only one wicket in the first innings, before taking two wickets for 61 in the second innings.
Besides the lack of wickets, Mishra’s economy rate was the highest amongst the bowlers of both teams in the match. He went for 4.17 runs an over in the first innings and in the second innings, his economy was 4.61, which is not the kind of economy rate one desires in Test match cricket, and as a result, he was dropped from the ongoing second Test at Vizag in favour of Jayant Yadav.
On the contrary, Mishra has been consistent in the ODIs. He was recalled to the ODI team after a year for the series against the Kiwis and he played every single match, picking up a total of 15 wickets throughout the series at an impressive average of just 14.33 and an economy of 4.79.
There didn’t go a single match where Mishra did not pick less than two wickets and as a result of his performances, he was awarded the player of the series.
Given the huge contrast in his ODI and Test performances, should Amit Mishra be only considered for ODIs?
Firstly, let’s look at this statistically. In the 19 Tests that Mishra has played, he has taken a total of 68 wickets at an average of 34 and an economy rate of 3.20. In 36 ODIs, Mishra has taken 64 wickets at a relatively much better average of 23.60 and an economy rate of 4.72.
While his number of wickets in Tests has been more than in ODIs, his average in Tests has been extremely high compared to ODIs which could be a disadvantage to India if we look at the bigger picture.
His batting performances in Tests have been much better compared to ODIs, as he has scored four half-centuries in Test cricket but is yet to score 50 runs in ODI cricket, having made only 28 runs in 36 ODIs.
However, given India’s batting in Tests which goes as long as Wriddhiman Saha at number eight, one less batsman in Tests may not cause India much harm but one extra bowler who hasn’t been very consistent in taking wickets, but has conceded runs will definitely do them no good.
Instead of Mishra, India could opt for Jayant Yadav in the future who can contain runs and could also provide them with an additional batting option.
Before England, India played a total of seven Tests against West Indies and New Zealand. While the former has been in a state of decline in Tests, New Zealand have been equally weak too, especially in India.
However, the same can’t be said of England who beat India the last time they visited. Since then, England’s batting has been exceptional with the likes of Cook, Root, Stokes, Ali and even a young Haseeb Hameed who impressed in the opening Test at Rajkot.
England were outstanding in the batting department in the opening match with three of their batsmen garnering centuries in the first innings. Moreover, with the kind of batsmen they possess currently, Mishra could easily be someone they could target to get runs which might be an important reason so as to why he was dropped for the second Test.
After the series against England, India play four home Tests against Australia who haven’t been very lethal in the longest format of the game but have a crop of batsmen that can score well in India.
37-year old South African spinner Imran Tahir has been performing quite well in ODIs this year, having taken a career-best 7 for 45 against the West Indies a few months. However, it has been almost a year since the leggie last played a Test match as he was not very consistent in the format. A much more obvious version of this concept is the case with the 33-year old Mishra.
One of the most important things you require in Test cricket is longevity and that is certainly something Mishra does not possess as of now. He hasn’t been able to bowl very long spells in recent times and when asked to, hasn’t been very effective.
Besides, having come at the back of an ODI series, the transition from ODI to Test is something which Mishra will take some time to adjust to at his age and fitness level. Hence, based on all these factors, it is safe to say that Mishra will do well in the ODI team but he definitely doesn’t fit in the Test team.