Ashish Nehra farewell vs New Zealand: BCCI makes amends for missed opportunities

Ashish Nehra will retire from international cricket following the Twenty20 International against New Zealand at the Ferozeshah Kotla and the Indian national selectors must be applauded for picking the 38-year-old veteran.

india vs new zealand 2017 Updated: Oct 23, 2017 20:39 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
India vs New Zealand,Indian cricket team,Ashish Nehra
Ashish Nehra will retire from international cricket following Indian cricket team’s Twenty20 International against New Zealand at the Ferozeshah Kotla. (BCCI)

It is debatable whether an unfair treatment of one player can be reversed by doing the right thing for the other. But India’s national cricket selectors must be applauded for picking Ashish Nehra for the first Twenty20 International against New Zealand.

The 38-year-old left-arm pace bowler had expressed his desire to retire in front of his home crowd and the first of the three T20 games to be played at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground will give Nehra the opportunity to bid adieu in front of the fans.

A debate began after Nehra, finding himself excess to requirements on being selected for the T20s against Australia, requested the team management and BCCI to let him play in the Delhi game and bid farewell on the pitch.

Gavaskar’s criticism

Sunil Gavaskar questioned giving any such allowance to a player, who himself admitted India’s pace bowling in the limited-overs – Nehra decided long back that his injury-prone body can’t stand the rigours of ODIs or Tests – was in the safe hands of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.

While Gavaskar has a valid point, letting Nehra run in to bowl in front of his family and friends one last time will allow the BCCI to send a message to millions of cricket fans that it is capable of appreciating tradition.

What will this graceful act for Nehra help the BCCI make amends for? A bunch of India cricketing greats – Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan in particular – ended their careers away from the field when the BCCI should have ensured they got a farewell game and gave their biggest stakeholders, fans, the I-was-there moment.

Bowling fast hurts

Compared to them, Nehra hardly played for India. Much like Ajit Agarkar, Nehra’s frail frame wasn’t suited for bowling fast. The result: Just 17 Tests (44 wickets), 120 ODIs (157 wickets) and 26 T20Is (34 wickets) in an 18-year India career.

Credit to the Delhi bowler, he never compromised on pace, and was always honest in assessing himself. A member of the 2011 World Cup-winning squad, he missed the final against Sri Lanka due to a hand injury.

But who can forget the match-winning 6/23 against England in Durban – after not even warming up due to an ankle injury – and combined efforts with Javagal Srinath that carried Sourav Ganguly’s side to the final of the 2003 World Cup in southern Africa?

One man for sure will be nostalgic when Nehra walks out at the Ferozeshah Kotla for his farewell game, one who rode pillion on Nehra’s scooter daily to the training ground with the dream of playing for India one day – Virender Sehwag.

First Published: Oct 23, 2017 20:25 IST