Diminutive leg-spinner Amit Mishra hopes his stand-out performance in India's one-day series win over New Zealand will convince coach Anil Kumble to play him in the upcoming Test series against England.
Mishra fashioned the home team's 3-2 win by topping the bowling charts with a rich haul of 15 wickets, including a 5-18 in six overs that shot out the Black Caps for 79 in the fifth match at Visakhapatnam on Saturday.
Later named the man-of-the-series, Mishra outshone the other bowlers with second-placed Umesh Yadav finishing with eight wickets and Tim Southee, New Zealand's best, with seven.
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The softly-spoken bowler, who turns 34 next month, would have been happier with a bagful of wickets had he played in the preceding Test series in which India whitewashed the Black Caps 3-0.
But coach Anil Kumble, himself a leg-spinner and the country's leading Test wicket-taker with 619 scalps, preferred the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in a four-man bowling attack.
Mishra watched from the dressing room as the pair demolished the tourists with off-spinner Ashwin taking 27 wickets and left-armer Jadeja 14.
Mishra will be Kumble's go-to bowler if Ashwin or Jadeja get injured or the need arises for a third spinner when Alastair Cook's England begin a five-Test series in India on November 9.
Playing second fiddle to other frontline spinners sums up Mishra's journey which began in 2003. He may not have played the one-dayers against New Zealand if Ashwin and Jadeja had not been rested.
In an international career spanning 13 years, he has appeared in only 20 Tests, claiming 71 wickets at 34.36, and 37 one-day internationals where he has 69 wickets.
It was said Mishra's slow, tossed up leg-spin was unproductive on easy-paced pitches.
On Test debut in 2008, five years after playing his first one-dayer, Mishra grabbed 5-71 against Australia in Mohali and ended the series with 14 wickets in three Tests.
When Kumble retired from playing during that series, Mishra was seen as the obvious successor to the spin legend.
But while his appearances at the top level have been infrequent, it’s made him even more determined to take the chances that came in way.
Recalled to Test cricket after four years in 2015, he picked up 15 wickets in three Tests in Sri Lanka to lift Virat Kohli's men to a come-from-behind 2-1 series win.
Mishra played in only two of the four home Tests against South Africa last year, taking seven wickets in a series dominated by Ashwin and Jadeja on spin-friendly pitches.
"I would love to bowl at England (in the upcoming Test series)," Mishra said. "But I've stopped thinking about what's not in my hands. I can improve my fitness, bowling and batting, but not how many matches I will play.
"I've prepared myself mentally in such a way that whenever there's an opportunity I give more than 100 percent. I'm just happy for all the hard work I've put in."
Mishra adores Kumble and shares an excellent relationship with his spin mentor.
"He has supported me with bowling plans and mentally as well," Mishra said of the coach. "When I did not get a chance to play Tests against New Zealand, he said 'your time will come'".
With England arriving on India’s shores next month for a bumper Test series, Mishra’s time may well have come.
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