Remember the panting after taking the stairs or running to catch the last bus?
Isn’t it hard?
Now think of Ashish Nehra, a pacer in his late thirties with 12 surgeries running to bowl six deliveries back to back still managing to roll at 130km/h.
India is always a batting team which is producing legends right from Sachin to Kohli; not many bowlers stayed long like the batters did.
The life wasn’t all fair to Nehra. When others struggled with form, Nehra struggled with injuries and Rehabs. The injuries made him miss many tours; The numbers tell you that. He played lesser than many pros who started late; Whenever he came back, his performance was top-notch.
He made his debut under Azhar, hung his boots in tests under Ganguly, retired from the ODIs under Dhoni, and waved a goodbye to the international cricket under Kohli. He also saw many short-lived captains.
Seeing ages in the sport allow one to grow as a person. When Nehra debuted, the T20 format didn’t even exist. In the 90’s, a 240 was a big deal but wasn’t the case in 2000’s. For someone trying to come back to the team should adapt accordingly. In the end, the shorter format became his favourite.
Under Azhar- The Beginning:
Right from the start, he was a gem as India never had a left-arm pacer since 1988. He debuted at the now defunct Asian test championship, 1998-1999.
Under Dada- Two years later:
Probably his golden phase; Two years after his debut he made his first comeback under Ganguly. He teamed with Srinath, Zaheer Khan to form the then best pack for the team.
How can one forget his taunting spell of 6 wickets against England at the 2003 World Cup?
That was the time he decided to end his test career considering his body. He possibly had all his parts operated at that time.
Under Dhoni- After four years:
After the 2007 T20I and 2008 U-19 World Cup win, India witnessed many bowlers come and go. Still, lacked a mainframe bowler. When one thought that Nehra was done-four years later, Dhoni convinced the coach and brought him back. He, by far was the best bowler for the team at that time.
Nehra played an important role in 2015 World Cup; His fiery spell against Pakistan in the semi-final was the last time he bowled in ODIs as he had to sit out with an injury in the final.
Again he was ignored by the officials. He Played hell a lot, performed hard, and made heads turn. This time, the much shorter format the T20.
The Indian Premier League helped him to find his place in the T20I as he had quite a season with Chennai Super Kings.
After the youngsters failed the veteran got a call-up for the World cup in 2015-2016. He didn’t disappoint and led the attack admirably. When he was made as a regular in the T20I, the injury stuck him again!
For one last time:
Nehra was never a ‘social media’ person and he still uses a basic model. He came out to announce his retirement in the press conference telling that he wanted to call it quits at his home, Delhi.
The India-New Zealand 1st T20I that was held at New Delhi saw the man walk out in blues for one last time. He did not disappoint though went wicketless.
He bowled the last over of the match from the Ashish Nehra end; when it was all over a lap of honour to the crowd. Later his Delhi mates Kohli and Dhawan lifted him on their shoulders.
The man who wasn’t treated fair by his body and the officials had a fitting farewell at Feroz Shah Kotla.
Certainly, he has so much to pass to the youngsters. His dry humour was a hit in the dressing room. Probably one of the funniest, finest human to play the game. May he continue to stay away from the social media and live his life as a free soul.
You will always be remembered for how you used to laugh even after conceding the boundaries, the way you used to celebrate after picking a wicket but most of all, you will always be remembered for the passion for the game!
It’s a pity that the same wasn’t granted to the legends like Dravid, Zaheer Khan or Sehwag.