Virender Sehwag believes Ashish Nehra is as fit as Virat Kohli
What's the story?
Veteran pacer Ashish Nehra was an unexpected inclusion in India's 15-man squad for the upcoming T20 series against Australia. However, the selection does not surprise former Indian opening batsman Virender Sehwag. The former Indian opener believes that Nehra's fitness is the main reason for his comeback into the team.
"The secret behind Nehra's fitness is when is not playing international cricket, he spends almost 8 hours in the gym (two sessions of 4 hours each). And if today he is a part of the T20 team, it is because he has passed the 'yo-yo' test. He scored almost 17-18 in the yo-yo test, touching Virat Kohli's score," he said in an interview with IndiaTV.
"I was not at all surprised with Nehra's selection in the T20I team against Australia. I am very happy that he is a part of the team and I want him to play more matches in future," he added.
In case you didn't know...
Nehra last played international cricket earlier this year, when India took on England for a 3-match T20 series.
The 38-year-old has not played ODI cricket for over 5 years now, but has continued to feature in and out of the squad for the shortest format of the game.
Sehwag has always been one of Nehra's biggest supporters and has not shied away from admiring the veteran's impressive performances publicly.
Here is a tweet he posted after the pacer displayed tremendous bowling skills in a game of the Indian Premier League:
After Nehra's comeback to the international fray, Sehwag continues to stand strongly behind the pacer and back his ability. Discussing Nehra's age being against his selection for the ICC T20 World Cup 2019, Sehwag said that it must not be a criterion at all.
He went on the compare the 38-year-old with the likes of Sanath Jayasuriya and Sachin Tendulkar, who played international cricket into their 40s.
The Australia series will be crucial for Nehra to make a deeper mark not only on selectors, but on skeptical cricket audiences. The man is now in his 18th year of international cricket, and has been met with praise and brickbats over that time.
It will be a challenge for him to take on Steve Smith and Co., who will be rearing to make a strong statement, more so after the drubbing they faced in the recently-concluded ODI series against India.
If the fitness of an individual is not under question, age should not be a reason to snub him for national selection. The future of the team sure is a concern, but if the signs are positive, the selection committee should not deter from giving a veteran cricketer the opportunity that he/she deserves.
Having said that, it is up to Nehra now to grab that opportunity with both hands. Younger bowlers are waiting in the wings for a call-up, and if Nehra fails to perform, they will take his place in a heartbeat. It is now up to the left-arm pacer to shine once again and add to his collection of 235 international wickets.