Former India leg-spinner and national selector Narendra Hirwani was delighted to hear the news of fellow leggie Amit Mishra's recall to the India Test squad for the series in Sri Lanka yesterday.
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The Sandeep Patil-led selection committee picked the 32-year old tweaker to replace Karn Sharma, who was not considered due to fitness issues. "It is a very good decision to recall Amit. He deserves this call-up. I am very happy for him," said Indore-based Hirwani, who has mentored Mishra over the last few years.
Hirwani told mid-day: "The thrust of my advice to him has been more about attitude rather than technical. I kept telling him, 'getting picked for India is not in your hands. What is in your hand is a ball and you should be improving all the time. You must think about excellence and remember pressure is something you bring on to yourself so cut out all those negative thoughts.'
Mishra was last seen in Test colours at the Oval in 2011, a game in which he went wicketless (38-3-170-0), but scored 43 (second highest to Rahul Dravid's 146) and 84 (second highest to Sachin Tendulkar's 91). "I told him, 'if you don't get picked, it only means you have more time to improve' so keep working hard," said Hirwani.
Amit Mishra bowls in a tour game against Somerset in Taunton during India's 2011 tour to England. Pic/Getty Images
This time Mishra will play under new Test captain Virat Kohli, who Hirwani reckoned will handle Mishra well. "A captain has to take his chances with a leg spinner and Virat is someone who will do this. I feel a leg spinner can come good on any sort of surface, but if a captain is not willing to take risks with him, his effectiveness is halved. It is a win-win situation for Amit," remarked Hirwani, who works with spinners at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.
"I remember my Test debut against West Indies at Chennai in 1988. My captain Ravi Shastri handed me the ball and said to me, 'you are a king, now do it.' My confidence sky-rocketed and with Ravi as Team Director now, Amit will not be short of encouragement." Hirwani ended up with 16 wickets on debut.
While talking about merits of Mishra's selection, chief selector Patil told the media in New Delhi: "Having seen how the Sri Lankan batsmen fared against Pakistan, our preference was for Mishra who has also done well in domestic cricket." Leggie Yasir Shah's 24 wickets helped Pakistan beat Sri Lanka 2-1 recently. Hirwani hailed the Pakistani, but also pointed out that he was handled well handled by skipper Misbah-ul-Haq.
Don Bradman - 5 years
Amit Mishra - 4 years
Misbah Ul Haq - 4 years
Geoffrey Boycott - 3 years
Mohinder Amarnath - 3 years
Zaheer Khan - 2 years
Harbhajan Singh - 2 years
Imran Khan - 2 years