Ending of what has been an era, Ashish Nehra called it time to rest a career that spanned 18 long years of competitive international cricket. The decision was announced by Nehra himself at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on Wednesday after India’s victory over New Zealand in the first T20 International of the three-match series. Soon after Nehra announcing his retirement, tributes started pouring in from everywhere for this legend, who has witnessed the good and bad, best and worst days of Indian Cricket.
Regarded as one of the best and consistent medium pacers India has ever had, Nehra’s career suffered from numerous injuries, but that never stopped him from being the successful player he turned out to be. One would be surprised to know that Nehra has played under as many as five captains!
As congratulatory messages and tributes poured in from fans and fellow players, it was one video message to Ashish Nehra that literally stole our hearts and brought back many nostalgic moments. The message was none other than former Indian batsman and Nehra’s team mate Hemang Badani’s.
In his tribute to Nehra, Badani mentioned an incident from the historic Indo-Pak series in 2004, where Ganguly entrusted Nehra with bowling the most crucial over of the match. Being the last over, Ganguly was extremely nervous with whom to entrust the responsibility because one mistake could cost India the match.
Badani recalls in the video, captioned as “The man who said ‘Dada, Daro Mat’ to Dada himself. The man who battled so many injuries with such positivity. Has a fighting temperament & a big heart. Wishing you a wonderful retired life Ashish Nehra. You kept the Indian Flag flying high playing for the Country. #INDvNZ.”:
I remember one such incident which was in 2004, the epic India vs Pakistan series in Karachi. We scored about 350. Pakistan needed about 9 or 10 of the last over and there was a bit of confusion at the ground as to who is going to bowl the last over and Nehra standing at fine-leg at that point of time runs in to Sourav and he says, ‘Dada (Sourav), mein dalta hoon, aap daro mat. Mein match win karke dunga’ and as things may fall in and things would happen he just gave 3 of the over, got the wicket of a set Moin Khan and won us the game.
It is to be noted that the fiery bowler had started his cricketing journey as an 18-year-old rookie under the leadership of Muhammad Azharuddin. While his exceptional performance against England (6/23) in the 2003 World Cup will be remembered by all, he was also a part of the 2011 World winning side where his spell against Pakistan in the semi-final was nothing short of extraordinary.
We wish this fiery medium pacer a hearty retired life.