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Yuvraj Singh’s emotional tribute to ‘Popat’ Ashish Nehra warms Indian team fans

Ashish Nehra played his final cricket match against New Zealand at the Feroz Shah Kotla that turned out to be an emotional affair for the Indian cricket team and fans. Following the match, Nehra’s India team-mate Yuvraj Singh posted an emotional tribute on his Facebook page.

india vs new zealand 2017 Updated: Nov 02, 2017 21:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India vs New Zealand,Ashish Nehra,Yuvraj Singh
Yuvraj Singh has paid an emotional tribute to Ashish Nehra following the Indian cricket team pacer’s final cricket match against New Zealand at the Feroz Shah Kotla. (Yuvraj Singh Instagram)

Ashish Nehra bade farewell to cricket after India’s win over New Zealand in the first Twenty20 International at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Wednesday. The left-arm pacer, who had been playing for India since 1999, went out on a high after Virat Kohli’s team finally broke their T20 jinx and registered their first win over the Black Caps in this format.

Following the win, emotions ran high at the Feroz Shah Kotla. Nehra ran a lap around the ground along with the Indian cricket team players, soaking up the adulation from his home crowd. Towards the end, he was lifted by Delhi boys Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan on their shoulders to culminate their tribute towards everyone’s favourite ‘Nehraji’.

From Bollywood to former cricketers, tributes for Indian cricket’s smiling assassin poured in all day. But probably the best tribute was posted by Yuvraj Singh on his Facebook page. In a lengthy post, Yuvraj outlined Nehra’s jovial character, his resilience, his temperament and some secret nicknames.

Mr ‘Talk-a-lot’

Yuvraj’s post mentioned that former India skipper Sourav Ganguly had given Nehra the nickname ‘Popat’. Yuvraj revealed, “Sourav Ganguly gave Ashu the nickname Popat as he talked a lot. I mean he can talk even under water! Plus he is hilarious. For me he doesn’t need to speak, there is something about his body language that is so funny. Agar aap Ashish Nehra k saath ho to aap ka din kharaab nahin jaa sakta (If you are with Ashish Nehra, you will never have a bad day)...NO CHANCE. Wo banda aap ko hassa-hassa k gira dega (He will make your stomach hurt with laughter). I have never told him this but secretly I have drawn inspiration from him.”

Yuvraj, who made his India debut a year after Nehra had played his first Test against Sri Lanka in 1999, also shared some interesting anecdotes about Nehra’s under 19 days. “I had gone to see Bhajji and noticed this tall, lean guy who just couldn’t stay still. He was like a cat on an extremely hot tin roof. He’d be sitting still one moment and all of a sudden break into a stretch or twitch his face or just roll his eyes. I found it extremely funny and thought may be someone has put ants in his pants,” Yuvraj wrote.

Dedication personified

Nehra’s 18-year international career was plagued with injuries that took a toll on his career. Despite the odds, Nehra always was known for his dedication. Yuvraj also gave an example of Nehra’s positive attitude.

“Ashu has had 11 surgeries – elbow, hip, ankle, finger, both knees just to name a few. But what kept him going were his hard work and the burning desire to do well. In 2011 World Cup semi-final against Pakistan, he bowled an outstanding spell but unfortunately got injured due to which he had to miss the finals. I know a lot of players would have got into self-pity, brooding mode but not him. Woh hassta rehtaa thaa (He was always smiling) and was available to help everyone.”

With Nehra’s departure, the number of active cricketers from the 90s has reduced further. However, the memories that Nehra provided will bring a smile for a long time.

First Published: Nov 02, 2017 21:16 IST