Ashish Nehra who last played for India in 2011 World Cup; has expressed a strong desire to make a comeback to India’s ODI team.
“I would love to play in the Champions Trophy,” Nehra told . “When you go to England you will take at least four fast bowlers in addition to two spinners. I know I can bowl anywhere; up front, in the middle overs and at death. I can also share the experience I have with the other young fast bowlers.”
Nehra’s last competitive fifty-over match – the recent practice game against England notwithstanding – was in December 2015. He says he has worked out a detailed plan for his comeback, which includes playing in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
“I aim to play at least three matches to build up my match-fitness. Fifty-overs is a different challenge and Vijay Hazare Trophy is a good platform to test myself,” Nehra said. “I bowl about eight overs even in the nets while preparing for a T20 match. It is about the feel of playing in a 50-over match.”
It was Nehra’s success in the IPL, initially at Chennai Super Kings and then with the Sunrisers Hyderabad; that brought him back in contention for India in T20 cricket. The selectors could not ignore the key role he played for those teams, keeping it tight with the new ball. He was a pretty handy choice in the death overs as well with well delivered yorkers.
Nehra’s zeal had him working towards returning to ODI cricket with the New Zealand series last October; but he fell ill and was forced to spend a couple of months away from the game. A match-winning 3 for 28 against England in the second T20I; and more recently hauls of 2 for 35 and 3 for 26 for North Zone in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy suggest Nehra has regained his fitness.
Old is Gold
At 38, he is the oldest active player in the Indian team but that does little to diminish his value. Nehra still bowls at speeds of 135 to 140 kph and his experience. He is looked upon as an idol by newbies like Bhuvneswar, Pandya, Bumrah and so on.
Chairman of selectors MSK Prasad, too, has acknowledged Nehra’s importance, saying he can be handy in English conditions.
Nehra is hopeful these assets help make him an attractive pick for the Champions Trophy; but felt it is premature to think as far as the next ICC tournament. “The 2019 World Cup is still two-and-a-half years away. We are going to play at least 50 one-dayers in between. For me every tournament is important. I will try to play as much as I can.”
With new talents showing up on blocks with Chahal, Krunal Pandya and others; it would be interesting to watch what the indian selectors do. Though why wouldn’t the team want a senior experienced campaigner like Nehra in the team. He has always delivered whenever chosen to play for the Blues.