Delhi v Tamil Nadu, Ranji Trophy Elite 2011-12, Delhi, 2nd day November 18, 2011

Nehra returns to first-class cricket


At the end of his first full day of first-class cricket in three years, Ashish Nehra found himself pleased - and sore - at having survived 16 overs of bowling on the Feroz Shah Kotla's eccentric wicket in Delhi's Ranji Trophy match against Tamil Nadu.

"I've been bowling in the nets and training for weeks now and thought that it would be better to play in a match and see how I can do," Nehra told ESPNcricinfo. "If this match goes fine, I will be able to play in least three of Delhi's six matches."

Nehra's last four-day game for Delhi was against Hyderabad in early November 2008. His return at the Kotla, with its early morning assistance for swing and general low bounce for the rest of the day, had gone well. Nehra said that it was only in the short three-over burst at the end of the day, "that I began to get a bit tight." After stumps, Nehra spent close to two-and-a-half hours cooling down and stretching.

The advantage of an eight-day gap between the fixtures against Tamil Nadu and Baroda has encouraged Nehra to assess his fitness in the four-day game. "It's not that I don't want to play in the longer version of the game, to say that is not right, I would love to play it if I could," he said. "I know my body cannot handle two four-day games with a gap of only three days between them. It's not the bowling that is a problem, it's the 90 overs in the field that in the past, have caused strains and injuries ... It is no fun sitting at home and not playing, only training and bowling in the nets."

Delhi captain Mithun Manhas said Nehra's advice helped the team's two younger pacemen, Parvinder Awana and Pradeep Sangwan. "It is always good to have a player's of Ashish's experience around and it eggs the younger bowlers on."

Nehra's last match for India was the World Cup semi-final against Pakistan during which he broke the fingers on his right hand while diving for the ball. It required surgery in five places and bone grafts from his wrist. At the Kotla on Friday, he dived on the field once more. "I did not feel under pressure at the start of the day, but I was thinking, 'will I be okay, will everything go well?' And so far it has. Now let's see what happens."

Nehra made his comeback to the Indian team in September 2009 after a gap of four years. In the run-up to the World Cup, he became India's highest wicket-taker in limited-overs in the previous two years, with 78 wickets in both ODIs and T20 and was part of World Cup-winning squad. After his post-World Cup return from injury, Nehra was disappointed to neither be picked for the two ODI series against England nor be among the BCCI's list of centrally contracted players. Of the World Cup-winning team, only Nehra and Yusuf Pathan have not been awarded BCCI contracts.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • karnail on November 22, 2011, 19:37 GMT

    Wow what a great news I am so excited.

  • Mahesh on November 20, 2011, 17:42 GMT

    Nehra is a Good bowler, he is one of the reason for us lifting the world cup, but its a good move by selectors to leave him out, he is already 32, he himself says he can't be there on the park for 90 overs, with a tight schedule for players, i don't know how he can survive a full 5 match odi series with 2 days gap between them, All the best for your future career Nehra, Thanks for the perform in the world cup. Don't bother to play in Ranji as well.

  • sudhakar on November 20, 2011, 5:07 GMT

    He got injured while diving and look what reward he got from BCCI..same with uthappa who won us t20 world cup..he is not even in contract list of 36 players...yuvraj won us 2011 world cup and selectors are not having patience with yuvraj..certainly its politics.

  • Sanjiv on November 20, 2011, 0:08 GMT

    Nehra's story is a stark reminder to any wannabes in India. The competition is intense to make it and then stay in this India team. You have to be 100% fit of body and spirit, at all times. Nehra is talented but the talent is encrusted with the weeds of a weak physiology, iffy fielding and lazy batting. Okay for a sustained Ranji level career, though.

  • Ashok on November 19, 2011, 22:15 GMT

    Sure, Nehra can return to first class cricket and play as long as he is selected. But his days of playing for India are over in all 3 formats of the game. He is an aging fast bowler most prone to injuries during past 4 years. So his best bet is to progress to coaching, if he still wants to be associatd with Cricket. There is a good crop of young fast bowlers playing for India presently - Ishant Sharma, Yadev & Aaron. Other youngsters like Unadkat, Mithun, Tyagi, Sreesanth, RP Singh, Ahmad, Vinay Kumar, P.Kumar, Balaji, Dinda are all waiting to grab which ever format accepts them. So Nehra has little or no chance to make a come back. Even Zaheer Khan will find it tough to get back with his injuries and aging body.As you say Yusuf Pathan & Nehra have been discarded even by BCCI - by not offering them a contract.

  • Bunty on November 19, 2011, 19:11 GMT

    Nehra has heart of steel too bad his legs were not of the same material and he suffered badly because of it. He was the first bowler from India who bowled consistently between 140-150 especially in games that matter.It is hilarious to see journey men like Mithun, Vinay,Arvind and Unadkat tried who cannot even frighten my grandma's kitten being treated like fast bowlers. I attribute India winning the World Cup to his crucial spell against Pakistan in Mohali. Too bad India is being ruled by factions from South and West right now. First we ever thrusted with Mukund and now Rohit. They have technique all right but they miss that crucial thing steely character -that penchant to thrive in pressure cooker situation not run away from it.It is not something you grow -you are born with it.Nehra has it sadly Indian selectors does not have people with that vision.

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2011, 19:05 GMT


  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2011, 17:03 GMT

    Nehra used to swing the bowl a lot and he will remain a special talent for Indian cricket but his come back to Indian Team looks like a rather bleak possibility.

  • TR on November 19, 2011, 15:46 GMT

    average bowling, zero batting, negative fielding .... sorry. Good bye and good luck for your non-cricketing life.

  • Kavin on November 19, 2011, 14:49 GMT

    LOL who cares, his career is over. Poor guy got trapped in injuries, and couldn't get out of it.

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