India set to bid adieu to veteran fast bowler Ashish Nehra
In international cricket, the one name that has become synonymous with perseverance and hard work is none other than Ashish Nehra.
The left-arm fast bowler from Delhi made his international debut way back in 1999 against Sri Lanka in Colombo. He started off his career on a decent note and was also part of the young Indian squad that played the 2003 World Cup. He amazed the world with a magnificent spell of 6/23 against England, where he swung the ball both ways and rattled the batsmen.
His international journey since then has not been without hiccups. As a fast bowler, Nehra has been hit with a long string of injuries (ankle, bowel, hamstring, and shoulder injuries, and back strains) right through his cricketing career. This is the main reason why a bowler of his calibre struggled to cement his place in the national team.
The one thing that has kept him going for 18 long years is his love for the game, and the determination to make a strong comeback every time he was out with an injury. When a sportsperson is plagued with frequent injuries, there is often a temptation to give up, but what has differentiated Nehra from others is his never-say-die spirit.
Despite all the injuries that he faced, he kept recovering and putting himself through tough rehab sessions to improve his performances at the domestic level. He kept making comebacks to the national team - in 2009 after the bowel injury, in the 2011 World Cup at the back of some superb performances at the domestic level, and most recently, in the 2016 T20I series against Australia. At the age of 36, at the fag end of his career, he became India's most important bowler in T20Is.
And now, one of the best fast bowlers that India has ever produced has decided to call it quits on his international career. He will bid adieu on 1 November 2017 after the first T20 match against New Zealand at his home ground, Firoz Shah Kotla, Delhi.
Nehra's retirement is coming at an opportune time, bowing out when the team is on a high and in great spirits, paving the way for the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and the young crop of fast bowlers to evolve.
According to Nehra, this was the most appropriate time to give opportunities to the youngsters and bring the curtains down on what has been an excellent career.
After announcing his retirement, Nehra said, “I’ve spoken to the team management and the chairman selection committee and it can’t get bigger than playing your last at the same venue where I played my first Ranji Trophy game 20 years back. ... It was me and Jasprit Bumrah bowling. This meant either Bhuvi or Mohammed Shami sat out. Now I think it is the right time and they’ve welcomed my decision,” he said.
Without any doubt, emotions will be running very high when he walks out onto the field for one last time in international cricket; and why not - he is bidding farewell to the game which he has adored and has made him what he is today.
Ashish Nehra will serve as an inspiration to future generations of fast bowlers. He has provided a strong example of what one can accomplish with hard work and the right attitude. Congratulations to this legendary cricketer on his fantastic career.