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Friday, Dec 13, 2019

Believe it or not, Virender Sehwag says Ashish Nehra is ‘as fit as Virat Kohli’

Virender Sehwag has said Ashish Nehra scored almost at par with captain Virat Kohli in the ‘yo-yo’ endurance test and that’s why he was selected in the Indian cricket team for the upcoming three-T20s against Australia.

india-vs-australia-2017 Updated: Oct 05, 2017 16:51 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Ashish Nehra’s experience will be crucial to the Virat Kohli-led India as it takes on Australian cricket team in a three-T20 series, starting October 7.
Ashish Nehra’s experience will be crucial to the Virat Kohli-led India as it takes on Australian cricket team in a three-T20 series, starting October 7. (BCCI )

Ashish Nehra’s selection in the Indian cricket team for the upcoming three-match Twenty20 International series against Australia raised a lot of eyebrows. The 38-year-old left-arm pacer had last played in a Twenty20 International series against England in February and was left out of the one-off games against West Indies and Sri Lanka.

Most of the reactions from cricket fans swung from surprise to ridicule. One Twitter user said, “Ashish Nehra’s expiry date can create a world record!” Another tweeted, “Left arm quick needed yes, but not a 38-year-old. That’s a backward step.”

(Read | ‘Ashish Nehra’s expiry date can create a world record,’ tweet cricket fans)

However, Nehra’s selection shows he is the ultimate comeback man. His return is even more inspiring when one looks at the reason. It is fitness, something which was not associated with the Delhi pacer from his early days.

Nehra matches Kohli

Virender Sehwag, Nehra’s former Delhi and India teammate, told India TV that his selection is not surprising at all. The explosive former India opener pointed out that the bowler’s fitness levels are on a par with that of India skipper Virat Kohli, and this was a key factor in the selectors choosing him.

(Read | If I do well it’s news, if I don’t do well it’s bigger news: Ashish Nehra)

“The secret behind Nehra’s fitness is that when not playing international cricket, he spends almost eight hours in the gym (in two sessions). And if today he is 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,” Sehwag said.

The yo-yo endurance test determines the fitness of the players. There were reports that batsman Suresh Raina and leg-spinner Amit Mishra did not met the levels required in the test and that was probably among the reasons why they could not break into the Indian cricket team.

(Read | After MS Dhoni, Jharkhand’s long wait for its next star in Indian cricket team continues)

Litany of injuries

Virender Sehwag attesting to Ashish Nehra’s fitness marks a sea change for a player whose career has been blighted by injuries. He has undergone surgeries 12 times. Since his international debut in 1999 till 2017, Nehra has undergone surgeries 12 times. A combination of groin, hamstring, calf, ankle injuries as well as side strains restricted his Test career to 17 games, the last being the 2004 game against Pakistan in Rawalpindi.

Ashish Nehra continued to struggle even after that. In 2011, the pace bowler fractured his finger in the semi-final of the World Cup against Pakistan and missed the final, which India won against Sri Lanka by four wickets.

(Read | Australian cricket’s ‘new group’ eager to revive team in T20Is vs India)

Surgery in 2016

A knee injury during the 2016 Indian Premier League required a surgery, which put him out of action. Despite injuries, Nehra has consistently performed in Twenty20 cricket, bowling with pace and craft to pick up six wickets in four games in the Asia Cup last year.

Nehra also suffered a hamstring injury during the IPL 2017, but has soldiered on by focusing on playing only Twenty20 cricket.

“Waise bhi Ashish Nehra accha karega toh bhi news hai, accha nahi karega toh woh aur bhi badi news hain (If Nehra does well, that’s news, if he doesn’t, that’s even bigger news).” This mantra of Nehra sums up his attitude and determination to do well for India, irrespective of scepticism.