April 18, 2014. Chennai Super Kings v Kings XI Punjab, Abu Dhabi. Disclaimer: before you Ctrl + T and google what you have missed, or more likely, forgotten, it wasn't anything remotely earth-shattering. A dropped catch. But the image has stayed in the memory for longer than normal, not necessarily for its role in affecting the course of the game. It is as much because of the subject as the ease with which he lends himself to meme-making on the internet.

Ashish Nehra, in his first match for Chennai Super Kings, had dropped Glenn Maxwell's catch. His facial contortions even as the ball eluded his outstretched palms were all that were required to produce a laugh-worthy meme. The Nehra-loving population - it's a considerable number - on social media took it upon themselves to make it viral.

Google 'Ashish Nehra memes' and about 25,200 results pop up in 0.38 seconds. One meme has Nehra bellowing out a loud appeal: 'Need 37 off six balls. Main hoon na (I am there).' There are also jokes on a bowler being a product of the imaginary Ashish Nehra Cricket Academy whenever he leaks runs.

However, Nehra, who will turn 36 on Wednesday has - to borrow one of his favourite send-offs - blown a flying kiss in the direction of critics and cynics. Besides being the highest wicket-taker for Chennai Super Kings thus far with 12 scalps from six matches, Nehra is also their most miserly bowler at 5.70 an over. He also has two Man-of-the-Match awards.

As for cricketers being lampooned, Nehra isn't the only one; among the Indians, Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma are meme-magnets. It isn't known if Nehra is aware of the existence of such memes. By many accounts, he isn't quite your zany, Playstation-obsessed cricketer that posts selfies on Instagram; Nehra is a throwback to a different generation.

But, if Nehra indeed does keep a track of the memes, he would see how his performances have impacted them. Sample this one with Nehra's toothy grin: 'Because Gods don't retire'. If that's too snarky, there's the image of Nehra pumping his fists with MK Gandhi's famous quote: 'First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win'.

The importance of Nehra to Chennai Super Kings' strike-force can't be overstated. While amply revealing his cunning at various stages of the innings, Nehra has also ensured his pace hasn't withered, despite being hampered by injuries several times in his career. His bowling has found plenty of admirers among his team-mates and opponents.

Captain MS Dhoni said after the Delhi Daredevils game that Nehra "was one Indian pacer who bowls pace effortlessly." R Ashwin called him one of the "finest bowlers that India has produced."

"In India the bowlers tend to be written off very easily. We are not a bowler's nation," Ashwin told iplt20.com. "We are more comfortable judging a bowler than a batsman and that is the reason we write off a good bowler.

"He was one of the linchpins of our 2011 World Cup winning side. What I admire about him is that he never sulks. He picks up the new ball, bowls in the Powerplay, bowls in the death, whether it is AB de Villiers or Yuvraj Singh he is up against. He never complains and always gives his 100 per cent."

That kind of smouldering intensity was on view against Kings XI Punjab at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, especially while he was bowling to M Vijay. There were a few lifters that whizzed off the surface. Then, Nehra sent down some slower deliveries which Vijay failed to decipher. He shadow-practised the stroke after each ill-connected attempt, but still couldn't get it right.

Nehra's fielding has often been a source of unintended humour, but after Mitchell Johnson slog-swept Jadeja, he dived forward at deep square leg. The opposition might be the same, but there was to be no drop this time. He rose with the ball, and a huge smile on his face. The crowd, too, cheered and laughed with, and not at, him, unlike on many occasions in the past.

He is realistic about fans' perceptions though. "I have been in good rhythm. I also had a good Champions League last year. Sometimes in T20 you are bowling well, you don't pick wickets, so people don't notice."

Nehra is known for his straight-talking nature and dry humour, and a fan got a taste of both during the 2011 World Cup. After India lost to South Africa, the fan told Nehra that the latter's last over was responsible for the defeat. Nehra coolly replied that the 99 overs prior to his over hadn't taken place, and the coin was tossed for his one over. India, he said, then ended up losing both the toss and the match.

Don't be surprised if you see a Dubsmash version of that line on social media.

Arun Venugopal is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo