Perhaps it’s a little too early to say Amit Mishra is enjoying a second wind, but the 32-year-old leg-spinner has certainly make a mark in this series. He plays second fiddle to Ravichandran Ashwin and so far has done his job commendably. Mishra had cleaned up the Sri Lankan tail to give India an 87-run lead in the first innings of the second test match. Then, on the final day at the P Sara Oval, he chipped in with three wickets to help the visitors square the series.
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Mishra has returned to the fold after four years. He didn’t have a good series in England in 2011 and was made the fall guy. Ravindra Jadeja was brought in as his replacement. The latter started off well, taking 24 wickets in his second Test series as India decimated Australia 4-0 at home. On the road, however, Jadeja looked mediocre but India persisted with him because he had MS Dhoni’s support. With N Srinivasan at the helm of affairs in Indian cricket, it was almost impossible for the selectors to overrule the former India captain. Mishra is a leg-spinner of old vintage who’s a little slow through the air. That didn’t impress Dhoni.
However, Mishra didn’t lose heart and continued to perform well in domestic cricket. He had 21 wickets in seven matches in the 2012-13 Ranji season followed by eight wickets in three matches and 10 wickets in six matches in the next two years. This is despite the fact that Haryana played almost all their home fixtures on Lahli green-tops. Patience has eventually paid off for Mishra. He has already scalped 12 wickets at 12.75 in this three-match series. Morevoer, Mishra has the full support of the new Test captain, Virat Kohli.
It was great to see the two Indian tweakers spin a web around the Sri Lankan batters in this Test. A victory target of 413 on a wearing pitch was an improbable task. The hosts had to bat 117 overs to save the match. They could last only 43.4 overs, losing by 278 runs.
India displayed excellent discipline, but poor application also contributed to Sri Lanka’s downfall. Their effort was similar to the way India batted in the second innings of the first Test. Modern-day batters struggle to counter quality spin on turning pitches and serial collapses attest that.
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