An outcast who really belongs

Amit Mishra, after dismissing one of his hat-trick victims, Pragyan Ojha.-RAJEEV BHATT

Amit Mishra claimed five wickets, including a hat-trick, and showed the cricketing world what he is capable of. Vijay Lokapally reports.

Amit Mishra dominated a match which was most memorable for the fact that he was finally accorded the recognition he deserved. Season after season he has been claiming wickets in large numbers, but a place in the national team has remained elusive for this hard-working cricketer from Delhi.

He moved to Haryana because Delhi once humiliated him by rejecting him at the trials stage itself. Virender Sehwag too had been turned back when he first came for the under-17 trials at the Ferozeshah Kotla.

Mishra learnt his cricket in the dusty fields of Delhi and made his mark when he moved to neighbouring Haryana. “I had no other choice. Delhi would not give me a break and Haryana recognized my talent. It was a tough decision but I am glad that I moved to Haryana. The team has treated me very well and I owe my career to my mentors in Haryana,” said Mishra at the end of a five-wicket haul against Deccan Chargers, including a hat-trick in the last over of the match. He finished with five for 17.

If Delhi won, the credit lay with ‘Man of the Match’ Mishra. It was a perfect surface for batting and Mishra commanded respect by mixing his wares so intelligently.

“I have seen him win matches for ONGC from difficult positions and I was confident he would see us through. I had complete faith in him and that is the reason why I gave him the last over. He has bowled well throughout the tournament,” said Sehwag, who was relaxed after throwing the ball to Mishra to bowl the last over.

A drama was also enacted between the two captains over substitution. Deccan Chargers skipper Adam Gilchrist was livid and lashed out at Delhi Daredevils’ tactics of making Mohammad Asif bowl two overs initially and then replacing him in the field with Shoaib Malik.

The Pakistan medium-pacer was not fully fit and after bowling two overs he returned to the dug out. He came back to bowl the 15th and the 17th overs. Gautam Gambhir (79 off 48 balls) too had injured his knee while batting and was substituted by Abraham de Villiers. As things turned out, de Villiers and Malik took two catches each.

“This is the first time I saw substitute players taking so many catches. The bowler (Asif) went off and then came again to bowl. It is for the umpire to see,” thundered Gilchrist after Deccan Chargers lost the match by 12 runs.

Daredevils skipper Sehwag claimed he went strictly by the rule book. “Asif had an external injury so he went out. He had to return to bowl a few overs again. We can have as many substitute fielders as possible. It is absolutely as per the rules,” said Sehwag, who had the misfortune of being hit by a stone.

The game was halted as Sehwag could not believe a stone would be hurled at him in his home ground.

“This must be the first time that a Delhi player has been hit by a stone in a match in Delhi. So sad that is Virender Sehwag,” he said.

He had done nothing wrong to earn the wrath of that spectator. Sehwag had not made a run, but led well to thwart an early charge by the Deccan Chargers.

THE SCOREBOARD

Delhi Daredevils v Deccan Chargers, Ferozeshah Kotla, Delhi, May 15, 2008.

Result: Delhi Daredevils won by 12 runs.

Delhi Daredevils 194 for four in 20 overs (G. Gambhir 79, S. Dhawan 68 n.o., P. Ojha 2-19) beat Deccan Chargers 182 for nine in 20 overs (S. Afridi 33, H. Gibbs 22, R. Sharma 35, S. Styris 29, V. Rao 34, G. McGrath 2-42, M. Maharoof 2-39, A. Mishra 5-17).