Ashish Nehra who graced the cricket pitch for one last time as an Indian player when India played against New Zealand at Delhi. Nehra will always be regarded as one of the finest bowlers India ever had,
Of course, he never got the opportunity to fulfil his full potential as he was seldom out of the team due to fitness issues. However, there wasn’t a single occasion when form was the reason behind Nehra’s exclusion from the team. Nehra’s key attributes was his ability to swing the delivery and his bowling under pressure.
Nehra made quite a number of successful comebacks to the Indian Team even in his late 30s and will be retiring as the oldest pacer of the Indian Cricket Team.
Early playing days
Nehra was born in Delhi in 1979 and at the age of 18, he made his Ranji Trophy debut for Delhi. After impressing with Delhi, Nehra was called up to the national team in 1999. He made his Test debut against Sri Lanka at the Asian Test Championship and bowled a spell of 1/94, picking up Marvan Atapattu’s wicket
Nehra was dropped from the team but returned back in 2001 for India’s tour of Zimbabwe. He had a pretty impressive outing as he took 11 wickets in four innings including his best Test spell of 4/72. He also made his ODI debut that year and took 2/33. Nehra’s first ODI wicket was Alastair Campbell whom he dismissed in only his second delivery.
Nehra soon became a regular for the Indian Cricket Team and represented them at the 2002 Champions Trophy where he took two wickets. He teamed up well with Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath and represented India at the 2003 World Cup.
2003 World Cup
Nehra did not play in India’s first two matches of the competition against Netherlands and Australia but made his debut in India’s third group match against Zimbabwe. He conceded 35 runs against Zimbabwe and only bowled one ball against Namibia before walking off the field due to injury.
His next match was against England where he produced the best bowling spell by an Indian in the World Cup. He took career-best figures of 6/23 which helped India beat England by 82 runs.
He was expensive in India’s final group game against Pakistan but he picked up two wickets. Nehra was impressive during the Super Sixes as he bowled economical spells of 0/30 and 1/24 against Kenya and New Zealand respectively while taking four wickets against Sri Lanka.
Ashish Nehra along with Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath formed a deadly fast-bowling trio and India reached the final only to lose Australia. Nehra ended the 2003 World Cup with 15 wickets at an average of 19.26 and an economy of 4.17.
Post-2003 World Cup and first injury
Following the 2003 World Cup, Nehra continued to be a regular for India for the next two years. He bowled some pretty impressive spells including 6/59 against Sri Lanka at Colombo. However, following India’s tri-series against Zimbabwe in 2005, Nehra sustained a bowel injury and pulled out of the team.
Ashish Nehra never played another Test match again. Four years later in 2009, Nehra came back to the Indian ODI team thanks to domestic and IPL performances. He played at the Champions Trophy and took 4/55 against Pakistan.
Nehra was back in becoming a regular for India in the ODI as well as the T20 format. He played the 2010 World Twenty20 and was adjudged the Man of the Match against Afghanistan due to his spell pf 3/19.
Ashish Nehra – 2011 World Cup and second injury
Ashish Nehra was in India’s team for the 2011 World Cup and made his tournament debut against Netherlands at Delhi, taking 1/22. Nehra then played against South Africa and gave away 16 runs in the final over which resulted in his exclusion for the next match.
Nehra came back for the semi-final against Pakistan and bowled an impressive spell of 2/33. However, he sustained a finger injury while trying to take a catch. This ruled him out of the final but he still got the opportunity to lay his hands on the World Cup.
Post-2011 World Cup and comeback in 2016
Nehra’s injury ruled him out for 3-4 months. Following recovery, the selectors ignored him for further series. Nehra continued to play in the IPL for Pune Warriors India and later, Delhi Daredevils. He joined Chennai Super Kings in 2014.
In IPL 2014, Nehra took 8 wickets at an average of 17.75 and an economy rate of 9.46. IPL 2015 would be a brilliant tournament for Nehra as he took 22 wickets at an average of 20.40 and an economy of 7.24. IPL 2015 helped Nehra make a comeback to the Indian team for their tour of Australia in January 2016.
Nehra played his first match in nearly five years against Australia and took the wicket of Kane Richardson. He took another wicket in the third match of the series. Nehra then played at the Asia Cup where he took 6 wickets including three against Bangladesh.
Nehra’s performances merited him a place in the squad for the 2016 World T20. Here, Nehra served India as a player as well as a mentor to the younger bowlers. Nehra played all five of India’s matches during the tournament and picked up a wicket each. He ended the tournament with 5 wickets at an average of 22.60 and an economy rate of 5.94. ICC selected him in the Best XI for the tournament.
Ashish Nehra was out of the team for a while due to an injury sustained in the IPL. He came back to the T20 team for the England series in January 2017. During the series, Nehra took three wickets in the second T20.
Nehra was then selected in the squad to face Australia last September but didn’t play a single game. He then announced his retirement from international cricket following India’s game against New Zealand at Delhi. Nehra ends his career with 44 Test wickets, 157 ODI wickets and 34 T20 wickets.