Ashish Nehra won his third Man-of-the-Match award of the season with a spell of 3 for 28 in Chennai Super Kings' three-wicket victory against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the second Qualifier in Ranchi. After helping Super Kings make their sixth IPL final out of eight, Nehra said picking up that many awards in a single season of T20 cricket was not an easy task for a fast bowler.
Nehra has taken 22 wickets this season, his highest IPL tally, at an average of 18.54 and an economy rate of 7.03. "I have got three or four Man-of-the-Match awards this season and that says it all, it is not easy for a fast bowler to pick up that many awards in one season," Nehra told iplt20.com. "If you see stats-wise, then I have had my best season in the IPL. But I can't just say that this is the best IPL I have had till date. Even in 2008 when I played for Mumbai Indians or for the Delhi Daredevils in 2009 and 2010, I was bowling really well. At that time obviously I was five years younger.
"It is not that Ashish Nehra has changed. People are noticing it more because I am 36 and a guy at this age is doing something unbelievable in T20s. But I have been doing the same things that I have been doing over the last ten years. When you pick wickets, people remember you more."
Royal Challengers had made a solid start against Super Kings, scoring 23 runs off the first four overs, but Nehra's double-strike in the fifth left them precariously placed. Nehra said dismissing the top order was a significant factor because chasing a score of 160 on the slow Ranchi pitch would have been difficult.
"It was a very slow pitch and picking up wickets of their top order was crucial. We picked up Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, otherwise they would have scored at least 160. Chasing that much would have been really difficult. You could see that even chasing 140 we went till the last over. Once the ball got old, it was a much better pitch to bowl on for a spinner than a fast bowler."
Nehra's three wickets included those of Kohli and de Villiers in his third over. "On a bad day the wicket delivery to Kohli would have gone for a boundary, but at the same time the ball which he hit for six, could have been nicked," he said. "This is the first time in my life that I have had my wicketkeeper stand up to the stumps. I wasn't too sure about that move. But MS Dhoni came to me and said Virat is stepping out because the pitch is slow and if he stood up to the wicket, it will stop him from stepping out. Dhoni came up for one ball and I got the wicket."