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Last Updated Thursday October 12 2017 04:40 PM IST

Ashish Nehra: a salute to grit and gumption of an enigmatic performer

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Ashish Nehra Ashish Nehra earned a recall to the Indian T20 team in 2016 at the age of 36. Getty Images.

Ashish Nehra has decided to end his international career after the first T20 against New Zealand to be played at his home ground Feroz Shah Kotala in New Delhi on November 1.

The left-arm medium-pacer has been an enigma to the Indian cricket fans. Nehra, who made his Test debut 1999, has been plagued by injuries and could play in only 17 Tests.

However, the Delhi bowler has featured in 120 one-dayers and 26 Twenty20 Internationals.

Nehra started off as someone who could hustle the batsmen with his pace and swing. On pitches which had a fair bit of assistance, he was an awkward customer to tackle. Despite all the injuries he had to deal with, the 38-year-old has been part of some of India's finest moments in the shorter version of the game.

He formed a potent pace trio along with Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. He played a crucial role in Sourav Ganguly's men making it to the title clash.

Nehra blew away the English in a dream spell at the Kingsmead in a group match of the competition. His haul of 6/23 remains the best bowling figures by an Indian in a World Cup.

The advent of T20 cricket and the inception of the Indian Premier League in 2008 saw Nehra making a comeback to the Indian ODI team in 2009.

Thereafter, he did well to find a place in the Indian squad for the 2011 World Cup. But he was left to rue his decision to turn down then captain M.S. Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten's offer to make a Test comeback in 2009.

Nehra had outstanding figures of 2/33 in India's win over Pakistan in a high-pressure semifinal.

He had failed to defend 12 in the final over of an earlier group game against South Africa.

Unfortunately for Nehra, he picked up an injury while lunging forward to take a catch of Shahid Afridi and thus missed the final.

The image of Nehra, taking care to make sure no further damage was done to his capped finger as the Indian dressing room erupted after triumph over Sri Lanka in the final, remains etched in the minds of all Indian fans.

The sad part was that Nehra never played another ODI. He was deeply hurt, but the fighter that he is he toiled manfully and earned a recall to the Indian T20 team in 2016 at the age of 36.

Nehra had a decent outing in the T20 World Cup held at home the same year. True to the nature of his roller-coaster ride, Nehra was dumped again before he was picked for the ongoing T20 series against Australia in what is to be assumed as a gracious act on the part of the Indian team management.

Now, Nehra has decided to make way for the youngsters and end his career at his home ground. Nehra was never a top-class athlete, but he worked hard on his fitness. It is a tribute to his mental strength and craft that he could survive for such a long period.

Read also: More Cricket NewsIndia qualify for 2019 AFC Asian Cup

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