Ashish Nehra (1999-2017): The journey in pictures
Riddled with idiosyncrasies, inconsistencies and injuries, Ashish Nehra turned out to be one enigmatic character for Indian cricket: a tough nut to crack and an even tougher brain to figure.
Sporting a mile-wide smile wherever he sauntered in his torpid gait, Nehra managed to outlive several pacers of his generation with sheer determination, digging out enough motivation to return from exhausting surgeries and excruciating injuries.
His journey could have been branded as a career of ‘could-haves’, but Nehra never seemed to bother, so much so, that he made us not bother.
He became the butt of jokes on social media, but couldn’t care less, once quipping that he didn’t possess a cell phone to even go through the jokes.
Stories of Nehra sharing a great camaraderie with Virender Sehwag have seeped out of social media, making fans aware of a time when the two used to share a scooter and travel to the Feroz Shah Kotla for the Delhi Ranji team’s practice.
At the age of 19, Nehra got his big break, earning a spot in the Test side against Sri Lanka in February 1999 at Colombo. The unimpressive debut hardly ruffled any feathers, and Nehra was soon forgotten. A change of guard under Sourav Ganguly gave him another chance.
Part of a young group of pacers who were touted to move Indian cricket forward, Nehra, along with Zaheer Khan, made a re-entry, this time into ODIs as well. Perhaps the overlapping of his career with ‘Zak’ took some of the sheen off his bowling.
Against Zimbabwe, playing only his second Test, he helped India achieve their first overseas win in 15 years. His bowling had a unique zip to it, the ability to move the ball both ways was a characteristic few possessed, and Nehra slowly started settling into the new brand of Indian cricket.