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Still life with Amit Mishra.

by Gaurav Sethi

This story is inspired by Amit Mishra's run out on 8th May, 2014.

Before Walter Mitty’s secret world and Mungerilal’s dreamscapes, there was Amit Mishra. A stationery object, unmoved by the futility of movement, a master of the Zen of Pause. An inspiration for artists, among others, U2’s Running to stand still.

Amit Mishra was not always like this. He was far worse. A love for sport was discovered at an early age by accident. When he was yawning at the boundary and a fierce flat-hit lodged itself in his outstretched arms. Amit Mishra was cranky, the ball had broken his breathing patterns – he had reluctantly mastered the merits of breathe-in, breathe out, during yoga. His favourite Asan, the Shavasana (Corpse-asan) where you lie flat on your back, arms outstretched, doing nothing. As per the yoga teacher, Shavasana was a wind-down after the somewhat more rigorous Surya Namaskars.

Not for Amit Mishra. He wanted to start class with the Shavasana. The only time he showed any enthusiasm was when he eyed the mat with a sparkle in his eye; soon to be doused. 'Flat on the mat' was a rap song, Ma’ Odumbe, his Kenyan friend would sing for him. Of course, his full name was Maurice Odumbe, but Amit’s love for minimum-effort drove him to circumcise his name.

When everyone’s idea of a beach holiday was Goa, Amit Mishra’s was The Dead Sea. Fearing his family would bully him into water sports, Mishra stuck pictures of Thai beaches on the Jordan brochure.  Once there, Amit Mishra even dragged his yoga mat into The Dead Sea attempting the Shavasana. He wrote in his diary that day, “Shavasana & Dead Sea, these are a few of my favourite”

When the family posed for photographs, he demanded deadpan expressions. This joke was lost on everyone including Amit Mishra. However, deadpan was one of his favourite expressions – his buddy, Gauti, had used it whilst ordering pan fried pizzas, saying, you guessed it, “Deadpan pizza for Amit Mishra”.  At first he sulked, but when Gauti told him it was a joke, he laughed a tad, fast retiring to his stupor.

There was also a misplaced love for the shot put. What drew Amit Mishra to the sport first were the confines of the circle – yeah, I can stay there all day, he muttered. The tough part was lifting the shot and then hurling it. He asked if he could perch on the shot and be hurled instead? To his credit, he was the only enlisted-athlete (forgive the expression) who was never-fouled for leaving the circle.  What endeared him to the shot put even more was the knowledge that it had been part of the modern Olympics since 1896 – he loved all things old, as in his mind he equated them to immobility.

His friendship with Gauti meant cricket would soon be thrust upon him. Gauti loved to bat, but even more than that, he loved to smash spinners – especially left arm spinners. For a while, he made Amit Mishra bowl left arm spin. That backfired. The ball would invariably be bowled towards mid on - the next best thing, Gauti taught him leg spin. Gauti was ambitious, and wanted to smash other deliveries too, the googly and the full toss were added. And post match interviews.

It took a few dismissals for Gauti to realise he had created a Mishraenstein. Gauti asked him to concentrate on the full toss. But such was his friend’s accidental guile, the googly would come out instead.

In a way, Gauti was pleased, his friend was doing well enough to be his companion on tour. Four years after his Test debut, Amit Mishra would make his.  Between them, 171 runs and 7 wickets.

Two years’ later on Independence Day, Amit Mishra combined his love for flying kites, shot put and flighting the ball by doing this:

From 2008-2010, he was chasing Harbhajan Singh. Seeing as it was becoming increasingly difficult to replace him, he decided to become him.

Not one to be his own man, the IPL brought him new opportunities, to be someone else's man.

In spite of himself, Amit Mishra has represented  India, Deccan Chargers, Delhi Daredevils, Haryana, India Blue, Sunrisers Hyderabad. So much flux and changing of jerseys has scarred Amit Mishra. He still turns up for SRH matches in DD jerseys. However, he has stopped turning up for DD matches. The change in jerseys and logo was the last straw. A traditionalist, Amit Mishra once said, in the long run, it’s the short run that counts.

However plausible this might sound, this is a work of fiction. 

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