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India cricket team faces Ashish Nehra dilemma ahead of 1st T20 vs New Zealand at Kotla

The first T20 International between India and New Zealand in New Delhi is set to be veteran seamer Ashish Nehra’s last game in competitive cricket.

india vs new zealand 2017 Updated: Nov 01, 2017 10:35 IST
Siddhartha Sharma
Siddhartha Sharma
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India vs New Zealand,Ashish Nehra,Indian cricket team
Ashish Nehra will be playing his last cricket match when India take on New Zealand in the 1st T20 in New Delhi.(AFP)

Ashish Nehra will bid adieu to his 18-year international career on Wednesday, turning out one last time in India’s blue in the first T20 against New Zealand at his home ground.

However, it could cause some dilemma in the dressing room. And it won’t be a surprise if Virat Kohli and the India team management are torn between sentiment and the keenness to hit New Zealand with everything they have and halt the visitors’ 5-0 run in T20s.

Playing Nehra, 38, in his farewell match at his favourite Ferozeshah Kotla ground on Wednesday will mean tweaking the bowling line-up.

Nehra was not given a game in the T20s against Australia, which led to his request for a farewell game on his home turf. That suggested he was seen more as a backup bowler.

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Thus for Nehra to be included in the playing eleven, he will either have to be the third seamer alongside Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Otherwise, the team will have to take a big step and drop one of the two, hoping Hardik Pandya will step up. Otherwise, one of the spinners may have to make way.

However, India, who were run close in the deciding ODI game in Kanpur by New Zealand, can pin hopes on Nehra to bowl quick, which the 38-year-old has never compromised on.

On Tuesday, all eyes were fixed on Nehra at the Kotla. But he went to inspect the pitch and hit the massage table before heading home.

IPL specialist

Nehra has almost exclusively honed his game for IPL cricket in the last few years, and will be determined to bid farewell after proving his knack of exploiting the weakness in opposition batsmen one last time.

With the new ball, Nehra can hit the deck and bring the ball back into right-handers. His one great strength has been the ability to release the ball really late to outwit batsmen trying to step out and hit.

Although his 6/23 against England at Durban in the 2003 World Cup was his high point, his T20 contribution can’t be ignored. He has played 26 matches and India have won 18 of them. And Nehra has proved his worth as an exceptional death-over specialist.

In Australia in January 2016, India won at Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney with Nehra bowling economically when India were struggling to settle down on a new-ball combination.

Later, in the Asia Cup T20 in Dhaka, India won the title with Nehra leading from the front. And who can forget his spell against England at Nagpur earlier this year?

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Nehra took 3/28 and his spell summed him up. He bounced out Jason Roy and Sam Billings and later trapped Ben Stokes with a slower delivery.

On Tuesday, there was little clarity on Hardik Pandya’s fitness, and that could provide Nehra the opportunity to sign off in style, helping India achieve their first victory against the Kiwis in T20s.

First Published: Oct 31, 2017 19:52 IST