Nehra scores points on dead track
Nehra has consistently been under the scanner of the national selectors to prove his fitness, writes C Shekhar Luthra.india Updated: Dec 03, 2006 23:56 IST
On a flat Kotla wicket where bowlers had no choice other than to wait for the batsmen to commit a mistake, Delhi’s most experienced seamer Ashish Nehra made the old ball to talk on his behalf.
Back this season for North Zone and Delhi after a long injury layoff, Nehra has consistently been under the scanner of the national selectors to prove his fitness.
After failing to impress the selectors with his tireless 40 overs in the opening game against Tamil Nadu last week, Nehra was again handed the task of saving Delhi on Sunday.
There was hardly any margin for any error, as Uttar Pradesh, five wickets in hand, needed just 93 runs to take the vital first innings lead.
Though the contest looked equal, but Delhi skipper Mithun Manhas faced a big problem — he was holding a ball 64 overs old, and had only three bowlers he could rely upon — Nehra, Ishant Sharma and Chetnya Nanda.
Veteran left-arm spinner Rahul Sanghvi, after he was slammed for 10 off the only over he bowled on the day, was good only to encourage the other bowlers.
Nehra said after the day’s play: “Whenever the team needs me, I put extra efforts on any kind of track. But don’t expect me to bowl the way I did today again on such dead tracks.”
After sending down 11 overs on Sunday, 27.1 in all, Nehra led his teammates to the dressing room. A 12-run lead was enough for Delhi — the team think-tank has always played for two points in the last few seasons.
After that, the match was over — not literally, but given the way Delhi played in the second innings, it was clear that they were happy with the two points and would not try to force an outright win.
The match is of academic results now — Aakash Chopra (unbeaten 68) could well take the honour of slamming two tons in a match, or young Virat Kohli (unbeaten 13) could make an initial impact in his debut season for Delhi.
Delhi finished the day at 165 for three, and the UP attack and fielders seemed resigned to their fate of leaving Delhi with no points.
When play started in the morning, UP were hoping that allrounder Praveen Kumar could take them past the Delhi score. Praveen tried his best, batting with the utmost patience before he missed one Nanda delivery down the legside, and wicketkeeper Vijay Dahiya gave him no time to drag his foot back in time.
Young allrounder Piyush Chawla played some sensational drives during his knock of 61 during his 73-ball stay at the wicket but, with the mission nearing completion, showed a lack of maturity. When the last UP batsman, Shalabh Srivastava, came in, Chawla seemed to panic, going for a wild hit and losing his stumps to Ishant.