For a man considered to be the future of India’s pace bowling, especially with his left-armers’ angle adding variety to the Indian pace attack of Javagal Srinath, Venkatesh Prasad and Ajit Agarkar, playing just 17 Tests in his 13-year career this far is an underachievement, to say the least. One major reason for the Delhi pacer playing such a meagre amount of Test matches is his fitness, or rather lack of it. And Nehra has now accepted the fact that his body cannot handle the pressures of five-day cricket anymore. When asked if he hopes to play Test cricket again, Nehra said, “not really”.
“It’s not that I don’t want to play Test cricket anymore. In fact, it’s frustrating not to have played Test cricket for six-seven years. But I know my body can’t take it. In India, we play three Test matches, with a gap of three days between two games, followed by five ODIs. I can’t do that every week anymore.”
Nehra however also believed that him not playing a Test match in eight years — his last Test was against Pakistan at Rawalpindi in 2004 — has nothing to do with his ability as a bowler. “I have been asked by MS Dhoni on quite a few occasions if I would be available to play Tests. Even (former India coach) Gary Kirsten asked if I’d be available, but I had to turn down the offer. I don’t want to lie to anyone,” added Nehra, who turns 33 on Sunday.
“You look at the likes of Brett Lee or Lasith Malinga. They are great bowlers, but even they had to take that call (of quitting Tests) at some stage,” Nehra added. For a man, who has perhaps won more matches for India by bowling the last over than anyone else, Nehra came a cropper against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (April 17), conceding 23 runs with Saurabh Tiwary hitting a last-ball six, with four runs needed for victory. That defeat still hurts. “I was surprised and disappointed that I conceded over 20 runs. I will back myself nine out of 10 times not to concede more than 10 runs in the last over,” Nehra said.
Eyeing ODIs, T20s
Having been away from international cricket since he fractured his finger in the World Cup semi-final against Pakistan in March last year, Nehra hopes to play for ODIs and T20s for India in ODIs for “another four-five years.” But for that, he’ll have to first last at least the 16 games of the IPL. So, can he do it? “I am feeling great right now but you never know what will happen tomorrow,” he signed off.