It was almost a given that an India-Pakistan match, a T20I at that, would be a thriller. But thanks to the Indian bowling, particularly their spinners, the opening match of the Super 10 stage of the ICC World Twenty20 turned out to be a damp squib.
And it was the unheralded leg-spinner Amit Mishra who did the most damage; his figures of two for 22 in four overs -- including a wicket maiden -- earned him the player-of-the-match award. The leg-spinner -- who is more used to sitting out of the India team than being out in the middle in national colours, evidenced by the fact that this was only his second T20I -- shrugged off the sporadic nature of his appearances just as he seemed to shrug off any rustiness on the field.
"A very good thing about our team is that they always say 'Everyone be ready, we will let you know after the team meeting'," said Mishra at the post-match press conference when reminded that he was not a shoo-in for this match. "That is a very good thing because everyone is ready and if they get the chance they can just go out and perform."
When asked if it was a struggle to keep disappointment and frustration due to his rare national appearances at bay, Mishra was philosophical. "It's a little disappointing, no doubt, but I always think about the positives. I am very happy that I am here and performing. The whole team gives me confidence," said Mishra.
His maiden over was a perfect example of how to pile on the pressure on batsmen in the shortest form and how it can reap rewards. Add to that the crucial wickets of Ahmed Shehzad and Shoaib Malik, and one gets the idea of his value in restricting Pakistan to just 130. The most refreshing aspect is that his success is not brought about the typical, flat mode of attacks most spinners use in the format.
"I always feel that in the shorter formats, if you are thinking of stopping the runs, you cannot stop those. You always have to think about how to take wickets and keep the pressure on. That is what has worked for me and that is what I will keep doing," Mishra said.
Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez was distraught about yet another loss to India in World Cups. "I think we couldn't score what we wanted to score on this track. We were in position after 15 overs, but the next three overs we couldn't capitalise on to it. We thought it was a good partnership between Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik but they couldn't accelerate from that position. I think 150 on this track would have been good," said Hafeez.