The 3 phases of Ashish Nehra's memorable career
When he first came onto the scene in the late 90s, Ashish Nehra was a bustling left-arm seamer who could hit the deck hard and move the ball both ways. Over the years, he has learned to adapt his game to the prevailing circumstances even as he battled valiantly against recurring injuries.
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Pulling the curtains down on what has been an eventful career, the fast bowler bid adieu to the game following the conclusion of the first T20I between India and New Zealand in Delhi. Let us take a look at the three different phases of Nehra's career and how his versatility helped him impart various roles in the Indian team across multiple formats.
#1 1999-2005: The Early Years
Ashish Nehra made his debut in international cricket during a Test match against Sri Lanka under Mohammad Azharuddin's captaincy in 1999. Almost 20 at that point in time, his first Test wicket was the big scalp of the exalted Marvan Atapattu. With just one wicket to his name in 28 overs, he was dropped from the national side following the drawn encounter in Colombo.
Two years later, he was selected for India's tour of Zimbabwe in 2001. The talented fast bowler made his ODI debut and slowly became a regular in the format. Along with Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath, he helped form a reasonable pace attack for India across different conditions.
With skipper Sourav Ganguly placing faith on his ability, Nehra grew leaps and bounds to become one of the best death bowlers in the team. Following Srinath's retirement in the aftermath of the 2003 World Cup, Nehra and Zaheer formed a memorable pace partnership for India in the subsequent years.
Nehra gave the most distinguished performance of his career in the memorable group match against England in the 2003 World Cup. His spell of 6 wickets for just 23 runs propelled India to a comfortable victory. Another of his many game-changing efforts came against Pakistan at Karachi in 2004. He defended just 9 runs from the last over to deliver a thrilling triumph for India.
Of the 72 ODIs Nehra played during this phase, India won 40 of those and he picked up 57 wickets.