Ashish Nehra: Injuries, Revival And Now Retirement
Ashish Nehra’s debut is an event of a previous century; the time when Mohammad Azharuddin was the captain of the Indian cricket team. The time when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister of India and Narendra Modi – the current PM – was yet to become the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The former has already retired from active politics while the latter is presently the PM of India after three terms in office as CM . 18 years on, Nehra was still an active player till October 12 2017, until he announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.
With this, now Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Wasim Jaffer and Mohammad Kaif are the only active Indian cricketers who made their debut in the previous century. None of the four players is in contention of making a comeback in the Indian team and safe to say that Nehra’s retirement will mark a closure to the 20th chapter of India, which saw players like CK Nayudu, MAK Pataudi, Bishan Singh Bedi, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and many more.
Ashish Nehra kicked off his international career with a controversial start. It was the name of Laxmi Ratan Shukla – the former India player and now a minister in Bengal Government – that flashed on the electronic screen in the ground but Nehra was the one who played the Test match.
Shukla played just three ODIs and never represented the country in the longest format of the game. On the other side, Nehra had a successful career, playing a total of 17 Tests and 120 ODIs. He was also the part of the Indian team in 2003 and 2011 World Cup. On one occasion, India ended their tourney as the runner-up whereas, on the other, they clinched the coveted trophy after a hiatus of 28 years.
Nehra embattled injuries all throughout his career. He has had a total of 12 surgeries. A person would even find it difficult to walk post the grind what he went through but he still had that desire in him to play for the country, though just T20I cricket. He had himself backed out from Test cricket in 2009 but was always open for selection in ODI side; even after the 2011 World Cup triumph. He waited, but the re-call never came.
His career would have had a dud end had he not been recalled in the Indian team for the T20I series in Australia in January 2016. It was Nehra’s prodigious show in IPL 2015, where he won three Man of the Match awards, that forced selectors to have a look at this fast bowler, who was still ready to render his services to the Indian team. Out of favour, Nehra made a surprise comeback in the Indian team and from then, remained to be the part of the side.
He was more of like a mentor to each and player, especially the fast bowlers in the ranks, many of whom were yet to play even in junior cricket when Nehra made his debut in international cricket.
He remained at the top of his form for the next 22 months during which Nehra played for India in the shortest format of the game. An injury during IPL 2016 though kept him out of action for a few months but the left-arm pacer came back when India faced England early this year. He never ever thought of calling it quits and wanted to play his until the age of 40, as he revealed recently in an interview with anchor Gaurav Kapur but what transpired in past few days, could be one of the reasons why he thought to bid adieu to the game.
Nehra only plays T20 cricket now and team India rarely plays more than 10 T20I in a year, barring the year 2016 where they played this format more due to the T20 World cup slated in the first quarter of the year. He was expected to lead the young pace attack in the ongoing series against Australia but India skipper Virat Kohli decided to bench Nehra.
The decision to drop the senior pro was a surprising one.
It is understandable that he did not want to tinker with the settled pace attack but if this was the case, then why you recalled a 38-year-old player who just bowls four overs now.
From that day, there were signals that the pacer was looking to make way for the youngsters and Bangalore Mirror soon came up with the news that Nehra was contemplating an end to his 18-year-old international career.
A couple of days later, he confirmed the news and on November 1, at his home ground i.e. Feroz Shah Kotla stadium, Ashish Nehra would bid adieu to the game. The same place where he would come along with Virender Sehwag on his scooter in the wee hours for games and practice.
Both mates went on to star for team India. While Viru did not have an opportunity to play a farewell game, Nehra will hope to get a place in the playing XI so as to mark an end to his career the way he kick-started it.