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Nehra goes bananas

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
Ashish Nehra shrugs off the pain of an ankle injury to give everyone a lesson in seam bowling
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Ashish Nehra
6 for 23 v England, 2003

Having endured a seriously swollen ankle for two days, it was a surprise that Ashish Nehra even turned up for the crucial India-England clash in Durban. India were defending 250, a total that was competitive but not necessarily match-winning, under the Kingsmead lights.

India's new-ball bowlers, Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath, had done the early damage, reducing England to 28 for 2 after 12 overs, when Nehra was introduced. What followed was a lesson in the art of seam bowling, angling in from over the wicket and keeping it in the narrow straight just outside off.

Nehra, who bowled his 10 overs straight through, ended with dream figures of 6 for 23, the best analysis by an Indian in World Cup history, and - until Glenn McGrath routed the Namibians a few days later - the best by anyone in a World Cup match outside the seamers' paradise of Headingley.

Sourav Ganguly, Nehra's captain, was emphatic in his verdict: "He's had a swollen ankle for two days and it was sheer determination that made him play. He bowled a fantastic line. It's one of the best performances in a one-day international that I have seen since I started playing for India."

Alec Stewart, who was nailed lbw first-ball, was the only batsmen who wasn't dismissed in the slip cordon. Of the nine balls that Nehra pitched on middle stump, according to Wisden's stats, three resulted in wickets. His length was exemplary - just one delivery was dropped short, and only five in all were over-pitched. The rest were on or back of a good length, and each of them was too good for England's tentative batsmen.

Nehra's celebration: scarfing a banana and then throwing it up by the side of the pitch. Some Indian bowler may do better in a World Cup but you can rest assured that nobody will better the celebration.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is a former assistant editor at Cricinfo

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