Delhi Daredevils have been one of the most consistent sides in the Indian Premier League (IPL) over the years.
Surprised with this statement? Well, you shouldn't be! The word ‘consistent’ here only refers to the way they have managed to finish in the bottom half of the points table in most of the previous seasons.
Despite having a good squad every year, they somehow find a way to keep languishing at the bottom of the table. This year was no different as they finished at the bottom of the points table once again despite assembling a much better squad as compared to previous seasons.
However, despite their consistent underperformance as a team, IPL 2018 has seen majority of their top performers coming from this franchise.
Talk about Rishabh Pant’s batting exploits this season and you can probably end up talking about it the whole day. Young Prithvi Shaw’s swagger and fiery knocks up the order can leave you spellbound every single time you talk about them.
If these performances are not enough, talk about Trent Boult’s bowling performance and thunderous fielding this season. It will keep you wanting for more. And you can't just get enough of Nepali spin sensation Sandeep Lamichhane and his bamboozling skills on show this season.
These performers have been truly wonderful and it has been absolutely mesmerising to watch them every time they were on the field doing what they do best. There is no doubt that these players deserve all the applause they are getting.
But why isn't anyone talking about Amit Mishra?
Yes, we are talking about the second highest wicket-taker in IPL history. A man with a vast experience of 136 IPL matches and 146 wickets to his name.
His exploits might have gone unnoticed but he has been Delhi’s second highest wicket-taker this season with 12 wickets to his name in 10 matches. Moreover, his bowling average, economy rate and strike rate — which read 22.00, 7.13 and 18.50 respectively this season — have been the best that he has recorded since 2014.
The last time he bettered these statistics was back in 2013 when he registered average, economy and strike rates of 18.76, 6.35 and 17.71 respectively.
He didn't have the best time as a bowler in the last few years. He was turning out to be expensive, his wicket-taking prowess seemed to be waning and it looked like the end of Mishra as far as IPL was concerned.
But this season has been different and has probably revived his IPL career once again. He has performed well, both in terms of wickets and economy, which helped Delhi wrest some control during the middle overs.
Their end result as a team is a different issue but Mishra has always provided his team with everything that his skipper has asked of him this season. His performance and exploits are right up there with that of the Pants, Boults and the Shaws and there is hardly anything that you can take away from him.
The season didn't start off for him the way he would have expected it to. In fact, it started off in the way that he has performed in the previous seasons. He got thrashed away for 46 runs in his spell of four overs in their first match of the tournament against Kings XI Punjab and then was dropped for the next four matches until he was included once again in their sixth match of the season, once again against Punjab.
From there on, he seemed like a changed bowler, someone who bowled with more confidence and self-belief, some one who trusted his skills and someone who bowled exactly like he did during his prime days. It seemed like he had shrugged off the disappointment of his performances in the previous four seasons and only had his eyes set on performing well this season. He was a seasoned professional but he seemed to have the enthusiasm of a newcomer looking to make his mark in the higher arena once again.
Absolutely wonderful bowling spells of 2/23 and 1/19 against the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively followed and he regained his lost confidence once again.
Lamichhane has been the most talked about spinner from the Daredevils’ camp in the last few matches but it has been Mishra who has gone on doing his job silently every time. Lamichhane’s fame and figure probably overshadowed Mishra’s performances, but he deserves as much accolades as the Nepali spin sensation, if not more.
Mishra played crucial roles with the ball in both of their previous matches in which they emerged victorious. First, his spell of 4-1-20-2 choked the Super Kings and then his season best performance, in their last league match, of 4-0-19-3 landed the knockout punch on the Mumbai Indians.
Lamichhane received a lot of praise for his spell of 3/36 in this match against Mumbai but it was Mishra’s spell of 3/19 comprising the crucial wickets of Evin Lewis, Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya that helped Delhi to emerge victorious.
Lamichhane has been good, no doubt. But the veteran bowler from Haryana has been equally good if not better. And credit should be given where it is due.
At 35, Mishra may not have that many years of international cricket ahead of him considering the way young and skillful spinners are emerging every year from every nook and corner of the country. However, with such a performance in this year, he has ensured that his position is not yet lost in this highly coveted tournament like IPL. And he will be backed up by franchises as long as he keeps showing that he still has the skills to bamboozle the batsmen and leave them embarrassed beyond their imagination.