Birthday special: Ashish Nehra – Three most memorable spells by the left-arm pacer

Ashish Nehra

A tall, lanky pacer from Delhi, Ashish Nehra had all the attributes that a left-arm pacer aims for. In a career plagued by injuries, the pacer kept losing out on crucial time but never gave up the will to come back. He made his international debut against Sri Lanka in a Test match in 1999 and then against Zimbabwe in 2001 in ODIs. Having represented the nation in 17 Tests, 120 ODIs, and 27 T20Is, Nehra was also a regular face in the Indian Premier League, where he played 88 games with four different franchises. As the wily pacer turns 43, here is a look at his top three spells-

3) 2/33 vs Pakistan, Mohali, India, ICC World Cup 2011

The nerves are always high when arch-rivals India and Pakistan lock horns. Add to it the occasion of a World Cup, and there is no bigger event in the sport. It was the semi-final clash of the 2011 ICC World Cup 2011 where India was defending a total of 260. While he took only two wickets, it was Nehra’s control with the ball that tightened the screws around Pakistan’s batsmen. He was the most economical bowler on the day, finishing his 10 overs with 2/33 as India won by 29 runs and proceeded to the historic final.

2) 3/23 and 2/77 vs Zimbabwe, Bulawayo 2001

India was touring Zimbabwe for a two-Test series in 2001, not having won an overseas Test for a decade and a half. Zimbabwe’s Test team was a much more impactful team back in the day. A 22-year-old Nehra helped India restrict the hosts for just 173 in the first innings, bagging 3/23. Having taken a considerable lead in the first-innings, Nehra picked 2/77 in the second innings to make his match figures 5/100 as India won the game by 8 wickets.

1) 6/23 vs England, Durban, South Africa ICC World Cup 2003

India was up against England in the 2003 World Cup in Durban and was on the verge of qualifying for the Super Six. Defending a competitive target of 250, India’s pace duo of Javgal Srinath and Zaheer Khan made early inroads to reduce the opponents to 18/2. That was when Nehra joined the action and what transpired is one of his finest spells. He bowled well enough to make his captain bowl him for 10 overs on the trot, as he finished 6/23 and guided India to a massive 82-run win.