Veteran pacer Ashish Nehra says his years of playing top-class cricket has played an important role in his comeback to the Indian team
Kolkata: If, 17 years ago, Ashish Nehra surprised many with his selection to the Indian team, he made sure he reserved the biggest one for the twilight of a remarkable roller-coaster ride.
Ashish Nehra (left) shares a light moment with Delhi and India teammate Shikhar Dhawan during a media interaction in Kolkata yesterday. Pic/PTI
Out of international cricket for five years, the wiry left-armer is not just back but is emerging as the go-to bowler for skipper MS Dhoni as the game nestled into the Twenty20 mode.
"Comebacks are far more difficult than debuts," said Nehra, hours before Team India left for the Asia Cup in Bangladesh. "Particularly for a fast bowler well into his thirties," he added.
Nehra, who had last played in the 2011 World Cup, was picked for last month's T20 series in Australia on the back of impressive performances in the 2015 Indian Premier League.
While he credited the IPL as "a great platform" to stay on the selectors' radar, the Delhi bowler has had to align to the ethos of the modern game, where the shortest format is often the centrepiece. "While I have had to work very hard to stay fit, the years of experience has helped immensely," he said, reminding: "That's something you can't buy in the market."
His international comebacks, Nehra asserts, is because "I've always aimed for that level even when I was out. For me, it's never been about playing just domestic cricket."
'Clear about my job'
Doesn't the short spells of T20 cricket, often of just one over, disturb his rhythm? "I'm used to it. I am clear about my job," he says before plunging into the new partnership with young Jasprit Bumrah. "I was pulling his leg the other day that he was just five when I made my debut," smiled Nehra.
"But I learn from him too and quite enjoy bowling with him. That's what experience does. I have picked up more in the last few years than I did in the 14 years before that."
Talking about his role as a mentor for other bowlers, Nehra pointed out that he did not "believe in concept of spearheads". "We have to do well as a bowling unit. Everyone has a role in it," he said.