Kolkata: Ardent cricket lovers from the last decade would always carry fond memories of the Indian team back then. From Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly to Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble, the list of greats just doesn’t seem to end. As time slowly passed by, these legends hung up their boots, but Ashish Nehra (37) continues to prove that age, is nothing, but a number.
But the services of this old warhorse have been restricted to the T20 national side ever since he made his comeback. However, Nehra hasn’t given up on his hopes of playing ODI cricket for India once again. Having begun preparations for the marquee ICC event set for June – the ICC Champions Trophy, Nehra, while expressing his eagerness to play in the tournament, also touched upon the issue of fitness when he said, “If team management wants me and I am fit, I would like to play the Champions Trophy. I am preparing for it and that’s why I played two Vijay Hazare Trophy matches after 16 months. It felt good.” Nehra featured in the Indian ODI XI last in the 2011 World Cup semi-final against Pakistan in Mohali.
Nehra’s next assignment would be for the defending IPL Champions the Sunrisers Hyderabad in April. Asked whether he would be able to play all the matches in the upcoming edition of the IPL, he said, “In IPL, you cannot preserve yourself and try to bowl fast. I cannot plan about IPL keeping Champions Trophy in mind.”
Injuries have always been a consistent part of the speedster’s career as time and again, he missed out on crucial matches for India owing to injuries. But he acknowledged the fact that he had had a lot of ‘freak injuries’ throughout his career. And he rubbished claims of him having fitness issues when asked whether he would be fit if the team needed him for the Champions Trophy. Said Nehra, “It’s just that in India, it’s very easy to create perception about a player without knowing if he is injured or unfit.” He further added, “At my age, I don’t care about perceptions.”
Accepting the fact that fast bowling is quite tedious a task, he said, “Obviously, bowling fast takes a lot of load on my body. So I have to manage my body, work on my routines for 4-5 hours daily. It’s not easy but that’s how it’s supposed to be. The endeavour is to play as long as possible. I do strides, short sprints. Suppose you bowl 7 overs in nets, it means you have had 42 strides.” he added.
Undoubtedly, he would be a welcome addition to the ODI side the fast bowling unit of which needs someone like him to look up to in desperate times. Nehra playing for the Indian ODI side immediately reminds us of his destructive spell against England in the 2003 ICC World Cup where his six wickets rattled the English batting handing India a very famous win in Durban. Although it has been 14 years since then, deep within we know that he still has it in him to recreate some magic with the ball in ODI cricket.
(With inputs from PTI)