He’s a veteran, he’s 37, he’s an old horse but he is still effective. Ashish Nehra, who bowled with a less expressive pace but stuck to his line and length, and played a huge role in granting India its first T20 win in the series on Sunday.
During the second T20I game against England in Nagpur, Nehra ji, as Virender Sehwag would often call him, bowled his quota of four overs and took three wickets, all at crucial moments and gave away mere 28 runs.
Talking about his desire and hunger to play for India, the left-arm pacer said he likes pulling down the criticism of his age by making himself available for every match practice, which in his words, helps him get into his groove.
“Whether I’m playing 50 overs or T20 or if I’m bowling in the nets with a single stump to aim at, I’ve never felt short of match practice. It takes me only one game to get back into the groove.”
Putting some weight on the importance of match practice, Nehra said he will be playing the domestic cricket before the cash-rich IPL starts in April. He said like MS Dhoni, he also doesn’t play Test cricket anymore, and thus keeps himself match-fit.
He further added experience is something which keeps him floating in the selection pool.
“I will play domestic cricket in the coming months — 50 overs and T20 and there’s IPL too for two months. I believe if you’ve been playing so much for so long, match practice is very important whether you’re a bowler or batsman People like me or MS Dhoni who are not playing Test cricket right now, have to play domestic games and ultimately experience does matter.”
Nehra, who first plucked Sam Billings and a ball later Jason Roy, didn’t show any signs of stiffness while bowling and said age is just a number, which he doesn’t consider for himself. Later he dismissed Stokes in his last over, which eventually pulled back into the side. Nehra said it’s not easy to stay fit and keep performing but feels lucky to have been doing it for a while now.
“Regarding age, unfortunately in India, if you keep performing well then people will praise you. And if the team loses couple of matches, then people won’t criticize the rest of the 15 but will say Ashish Nehra should be dropped. It doesn’t make a difference to me but age is just a number. I know how hard it is to stay fit because I’m a fast bowler and I bowl in the beginning and end both. But I’m enjoying my game and till my body is fit. I’ll keep trying and playing.”
India levelled the thee-match T20I series one all with the decider to be played in Bengaluru on Wednesday (February 1).