Bowlers need to be mentally tough and "very strong" to bowl impressive spells in the end overs in T20 matches, experienced paceman Ashish Nehra has said. Nehra emphasised on how bowlers need to focus on executing their skills to become mentally strong. The left-arm quick has become a specialist in the shortest format in the last couple of years in the IPL, and made his return to the Indian T20 team when he was picked for the Australia tour last year.
"My simple thinking about bowling in the death, number one is that mentally you have to be very strong," Nehra said on the eve of Sunrisers Hyderabad's third match, against Mumbai Indians. "There are so many times I have seen that the first ball you bowl goes for a six, the second ball also goes for a six and you feel maybe this over is going for 25-26 runs. But if you are mentally strong and even if the first two balls go for sixes, you can still bowl a 15-run over. Those 5-10 runs make a big difference.
"In the death overs, only if you execute your skills you will do well but you have to be mentally very strong. One or two bad games doesn't matter. I have seen bowlers in the past who have had two or three bad games and from there onwards, the whole tournament they will play or the teams will drop them after five or six games and they never recover, that is the main thing in T20 cricket."
During India's recent T20 series against England, Nehra, along with Jasprit Bumrah, had turned the second match around in the end overs in Nagpur. Chasing 145, England were comfortably placed at 104 for 3, needing 41 from 30 balls with Ben Stokes and Joe Root at the crease. But Nehra and Bumrah bowled a deceiving mix of yorkers and slower deliveries to concede 35 runs and pick three wickets in the last five overs, sealing India's five-run win. Nehra had said after the match he had advised Bumrah to rely on his yorkers. On Tuesday, however, Nehra said bowling yorkers was not an easy art.
"Everbody's mindset is different," Nehra said. "Yorker is one word which I hear in T20 cricket, the more and more I play. It is very easy to say like everyone says 'oh, bowl a yorker' because somebody who never bowled doesn't know what it takes to bowl a yorker, especially when the ground is wet on a ground like Mumbai.
"It is very easy to say go and bowl a yorker. If it's in my hands to bowl good yorkers, I can bowl six. It is not that easy."
Nehra also said bowlers could not afford to get carried away if they bowled stifling first spells, but what mattered was how many runs a bowler conceded in his four overs, not in individual spells.
"Sometimes, you bowl three overs for 18 runs and you think today is a good day, and the last over goes for 20 runs," Nehra said. "Look at Sandeep Sharma yesterday, he gave just 7-8 runs in his first three overs (7) but his last over went for 20 (19). So it doesn't mean your day is over, your day is not over till the time you finish your four overs and the team completes 20 overs."