The end of an era beckons Team India, with veteran pacer Ashish Nehra all set to retire from all forms of competitive cricket next month. The 38-year-old, who made an entry back into India’s T20I team for the ongoing Australia series, will play his last game at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi, his home ground, against the touring New Zealand team on November 1.
While speaking to journalists before the third T20I between India and Australia, Nehra said: "I have spoken to the team management as well as the chairman of selection committee. It can't get bigger than getting to retire in front of your home crowd".
Earlier, reports had suggested that Nehra had intimated his plans to the coach and captain.
"Yes, Ashish has told both Ravi (Shastri) and Virat (Kohli) 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," a senior BCCI official told PTI.
Revisit the left-arm pacer's most memorable spell in international cricket:
"Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah are the form bowlers and Ashish felt that it's only fair in the interest of the team that they continue. Bhuvi has improved as a T20 bowler in leaps and bounds and Ashish said that the pair should continue. Had there not been a match at Kotla next month, Ashish would have retired after playing the third T20 International at Hyderabad on October 13," the official added.
No IPL as well
Furthermore, the left-arm pacer won’t be seen in the Indian Premier League from next year. He had to miss a part of the 2017 IPL for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, owing to a hamstring injury.
Nehra was signed up by the Mumbai Indians for the inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008, and followed it up with a stint with the Pune Warriors in 2011. He then played for the Delhi Daredevils, the Chennai Super Kings and the Sunrisers Hyderabad in subsequent editions.
Part of the 2011 World Cup winning squad, Nehra injured himself in the semi-finals of the tournament against Pakistan, and was not part of the playing XI for the final game. Stuck in thewilderness for five years, he made a sensational comeback to the side in 2016, playing in Australia, the Asia Cup and the World T20, before getting injured yet again and missing out on a portion of IPL 2016.
Post the injury, he made yet another comeback, this time for the T20Is against England earlier this year.
Nehra has, till date, played a total of 120 ODIs, 26 T20Is and 17 Tests, picking up a combined 235 wickets. A crafty bowler known for his late swing, Nehra cranked up pace in excess of 140kmph, even in his 30s, and was an effective weapon to use in the powerplays.
Injuries took a toll on him as his career progressed, and he had to undergo as many as 12 surgeries to fix various bones in his body. He made his international debut in February 1999, and is currently the longest-serving international pacer in world cricket in terms of career span.
Popular among his peers for his carefree attitude and quirky nature, Nehra played under as many seven Indian captains: starting with Mohammad Azharuddin to the current skipper of the team, Virat Kohli.
Nehra is also the only Indian bowler to have taken a six-fer in ODIs twice. He achieved the feat the second time around against Sri Lanka in 2005:
A genial character both on and off the field, Nehra will be remembered for his never-say-die attitude, especially on the face of several debilitating injuries that turned his career into a start-stop roller coaster.
At 38, his chances of playing further for India looked grim, especially with the increased impetus being given to fitness in the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup. One of just a handful of current cricketers who made their international debut in the 1990s, Nehra could return later to the Indian set-up in the capacity of an assistant coach. Till then, and beyond, the lanky pacer's aeroplane celebration will be etched in memory.