Veteran pacer Ashish Nehra says he is lucky to retire on his home ground Feroze Shah Kotla, the place where his cricketing journey started 20 years ago. Nehra has announced that the T20I against New Zealand on November 1 will be his last game in India colors.
“Ashish has told both Ravi and Virat that he does not want to continue beyond November 1 when India plays New Zealand at the Feroz Shah Kotla. Obviously, there is some element of surprise. One thought that he would like to continue till the home season against Sri Lanka. But he feels, it’s the right time to move on,” an official told PTI.
Roadmap of Nehra’s career.
Nehra made his debut for India in February 1999 in Asian Test Championship against Sri Lanka at Colombo. Nehra was a vital cog in Sourav Ganguly’s team of the 2002-03 era. He formed a great bowling pair with Zaheer Khan in his heydays to give India crucial breakthroughs. His best performance in ODI Cricket came against England in 2003 WC at Durban.
Poor form and return to the side.
He was dropped from the side in 2004 following a bad patch and didn’t don national colors for next five years. In 2009, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Gary Kirsten brought him back in the side considering him as back up strike bowler in absence of Zaheer Khan. He was even offered a comeback in tests but he declined as his body was not ready and 2011 World Cup was just around the corner.
He stayed a permanent member of Indian team till the end of 2011 World Cup. In the semifinal vs Pakistan, he suffered a serious hand injury which ruled him out of final as well as subsequent few months. Once he recovered he was again ignored when selectors decided to invest only in youth in 2011, thereby grooming Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and again didn’t show up for 5 years.
The Dark Knight Rises
His performances in IPL 2015 were monumental which earned him a national call-up in early 2016 vs Australia. Soon he established himself in the T20I side against. He played against Australia, Sri Lanka, Asia Cup and T20WC at the start of 2016 before getting injured again in IPL the same year. Nehra was again drafted into the side in October 2017 against Australia but didn’t get a game.
The 38-year-old Delhi pacer played 17 tests, 120 ODIS and 26 T20Is for India picking 44, 157 and 34 wickets respectively. He made his international debut in 1999. His career was plagued by injuries, forcing him to undergo 12 surgeries throughout the course of his career.
In press conference, Nehra quoted, “It will be great to retire in front of home crowd. It can’t get bigger than this. Every day when I practiced, I had only one aim i.e. to play for India. Hence there is no point to play another season of IPL as well. I have had 12 surgeries throughout the course of my career. Ask any athlete how difficult it is to recover from even one. My setbacks have made me strong and it will help me later in life as well.”
“The way Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Bumrah are bowling is superb. They are ready to take Indian cricket forward. I don’t want to overstay.” he added.
Not everyone gets to retire in front of their home crowd. Notable cricketers to get this privilege include Sachin Tendulkar (Mumbai), Andrew Strauss (The Lord’s), Steve Waugh (Sydney).
– by Atharva Apte