Tireless Nehra set for swansong

Tireless Nehra set for swansong

Ashish Nehra made his international debut in whites. After 18 years, the crafty left-arm seamer will bow out in a blue outfit and in the game's shortest format.

This alone is a testament to his tireless cricketing journey. Twelve surgeries, series of comebacks and a never-say-die attitude, Nehra has resolutely challenged fate and done what he loved doing -- run in and bowl fast. Age has never been a factor for him.

On his debut Test against Sri Lanka at Colombo in 1999, Nehra picked just one wicket. But his ability to move the ball off the pitch didn't go unnoticed. His skiddy action and a rare knack for hitting the good length spot with accuracy added to his craft.

With his talent, he was cut out for a long haul in Tests. At the same time, Zaheer Khan too was making his foray in international cricket. The two would go on to strike a thick friendship. India rejoiced in the discovery of two speedsters.

Injuries, however, proved to be Nehra's bane. But he fought back with resilience each time. The likes of Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, S Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar and RP Singh faded but Nehra kept reinventing himself. In 2009, he made a sensational ODI comeback.

With Zaheer out with injury, Nehra led the Indian attack. Be it the new ball, or old, Nehra was captain MS Dhoni's trusted bowler. In the next two years, Nehra redefined himself in the shorter format and became a death over specialist. He was part of the 2011 World Cup winning team and played a key role in the semifinals against Pakistan in Mohali.

Sadly, he injured himself in that match and never returned in ODIs. But Nehra again bounced back. This time in the T20 format. He impressed during his stints with Chennai Super Kings in 2014 and 2015 which paved the way for his selection in the T20 World Cup at home in 2016. He led the attack with aplomb in Asia Cup too.

Virat Kohli, his junior in Delhi circuit, became the captain and reposed his faith in Nehra. But the witty, straightforward bowler has had enough. On Tuesday, he would bowl the last four overs of his career. At a venue where he began his journey and walked straight into the hearts of the people.

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