New Delhi: Ashish Nehra has been the proverbial Phoenix rising from the ashes everytime the Doubting Thomases write his cricketing epitaph.
And the ever-smiling pacer is far from finished even after hitting the wiser side of 30s, enjoying his cricket as he outwits opposition batsmen with pace and guile. “At my age (he will be 38 next month), I am still a fast bowler. I was never the conventional 125-128 kmph bowler. Even today with the new ball, I set myself a target of bowling 138 kmph and I have to do that. Speed is not everything but if need be I can crank it upto 140 plus in T20s also,” Nehra said in an interview.
Does it put pressure on him that even current skipper Virat Kohli wants him in team as much as a Sourav Ganguly or MS Dhoni did during his hey days?
“If anyone says that he doesn’t feel pressure at international level is lying. But at this stage of my career more than pressure, I feel a sense of responsibility as a senior cricketer — to help young bowlers with inputs.
“Me and MS are two guys from different age groups. Our job is to bring a sense of calmness, our experience in this team.” What if India wants him during the 2019 50-over World Cup? He breaks into laughter at the very suggestion.
“2019 is too far away and I can’t play that far at my age even though I never planned when I was young. Even MS Dhoni who is two years younger to me may not be thinking that far ahead.
“Right now, I am preparing for IPL since Delhi hasn’t qualified for Hazare Trophy. Then there’s the Champions Trophy.” Asked how much white ball cricket has evolved since the time he made his debut more than 15 years ago, Nehra’s response is straight and to the point.
“Obviously, with rule changes, the game has evolved but basics of fast bowling remain the same. You can bowl as many yorkers or slower deliveries. But you have to bowl an outswinger, inswinger and one straight delivery.
In India, normally a tearaway quick faces problems with variations and ones who have variation are medium pacers to say the least. It’s a complex phenomenon and Nehra tells why. “In India if you are 140kmph plus bowler, people are happy that the bloke is quick. If he doesn’t get wickets, then people would cite lack of variation being his problem.
“For a swing bowler inside 130 kmph, his lack of wickets will be attributed to lack of pace. But in international cricket,pace alone can’t win you matches,” said Nehra, who has 157 wickets from 120 ODIs.