New Delhi: India’s Ashish Nehra waves to crowd after his retirement from all forms of cricket during the first T20 match against New Zealand
Ashish Nehra called time on his 18-year-career at the ground where he made his debut in 1999 – Feroz Shah Kotla. Playing his final game against New Zealand in the first T20 of the three-match series, the left-arm seamer didn’t have the greatest day on the field as he finished without a wicket to his name. But from the word go, he was enjoying his day with smiles despite going for a boundary.
After bowling the final over in India’s 53 run victory, he said that he had no regrets knowing full well that he could play for longer. “Many people asked me if you would have liked to play more Test cricket. But I think I am very fortunate to be standing here, retiring after 18 years, retiring in blue clothes in your home ground, I have no regrets. The crowd has been a great support. I am always happy whether I am retired or not,” he said in the post-match presentation with Sanjay Manjrekar.
He spoke to Manjrekar following a farewell lap surrounded by the India teammates. “I will miss all this. That’s what you train for. Like I said earlier, one thing that will be in peace is my body. I really pushed myself. I could have pushed for another two months or years, but who knows you can’t get better and bigger than this and it was the right time retiring in blue clothes. I must be one bowler who bowled the most number of last overs for India, but it was different sort of pressure and today was much more comfortable. Virat was on my case for the last 2-3 overs and I said I will bowl the last over,” he said with New Zealand needing 61 runs in the final over.
Nehra made his debut in 1999 and when queried what has changed in cricket and within the team in the last 18 years, Nehra said there have been big changes in terms of rules but maintained that this India side is here to stay. He remained confident that the current setup with stay at the top for the next 7-8 years. “It is a big change and I have seen 18-19 years of cricket, I played my first game here in 1997 and there have been drastic changes. The rules have been changed and so many runs being scored. This is an amazing team and Indian cricket is in good hands for next 7-8 years. Every 8-10 years game changes and I don’t like to compare generations. Earlier we had superb players, Ganguly, MS or Sachin, I can’t name everybody. All in all it has been a great journey,” he stated.
Nehra calls time on his career with best figures of 6/23 against England in Durban at the 2003 World Cup. But he prefers to remember his career on the moments than any big performances. “More than one performance I would say it’s the memory that matters more. In India people remember the memories more. I have told Viru before, he has scored so many runs, but people remember him as Multan ka Sultan. Maybe, the Karachi last over (2004) or people may even remember Ashish Nehra for bowling the last over against South Africa in the World Cup (2011) and we lost,” he added.