Nehra has made a brilliant come back into the Indian team backed by IPL performances © Getty Images
Nehra has made a brilliant come back into the Indian team backed by IPL performances © Getty Images

Indian fast bowler Ashish Nehra was ruled out of IPL after he suffered a knee injury that required immediate attention. The Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) pacer missed the second-half of the IPL and watched his team lift the trophy while he was being treated by surgeons in London. The veteran bowler has contributed immensely to SRH earlier and his sudden exit from the tournament did seem to be a blow. But the way SRH bounced back despite his absence SRH managed to get hold of the maiden IPL title. Right from Yuvraj Singh to VVS Laxman dedicated the IPL 9 Final victory to Nehra. ALSO READ: Virender Sehwag motivates Ashish Nehra after successful surgery

While speaking to Mumbai Mirror, Nehra spoke about witnessing the moment from the hospital and much more. When asked about what he felt about the IPL Final and his season with Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), Nehra said  “The way my season has panned out in the last seven months, I wanted to finish it on a high. I desperately wanted to be part of the last two-three games for Sunrisers Hyderabad. The team has worked hard and has managed to pull off a great win.”

Ever since his surgery, Nehra has been receiving plenty of wishes from his well-wishers on Twitter as well as from his own IPL team. “Like you (Mirror) have sent me a text, I have got many congratulatory messages and it felt good. People don’t remember you that much when you are not around but the Sunrisers team is different. It is a low-key team, full of youngsters who may not have made the Indian team but they will do it soon. The franchise management treated me like a family member. It would have been nice if I was part of the final. I was as desperate for that win as much any young guy,” said Nehra. ALSO READ: Ashish Nehra: My picture with Virat Kohli went viral because of Kohli

The IPL as an event is often considered to a high pressure tournament as franchises who have invested in the team expect wins at any cost. Nehra though had different views “I was involved in 12 games and was in Hyderabad for six weeks and I must have met the owners only once. We used to interact with only VVS (Laxman), Tom (Moody) and (Muttiah) Muralitharan. We never heard anything from the owners and I can say there was no interference.”

Nehra was advised to go to London for his operation as a BCCI Press release stated and his surgery was completed successfully. He said “My injury will take two-three months to heal. I have had two surgeries – on my knee which I would have got it done anyway and then I snapped my hamstring tendon. I had four games and seven days with hectic travel at one stage and that had its toll on me.”

Nehra is among one of the oldest cricketers in the T20 team and has made an impressive comeback in the Indian team after a long time. When asked about what has kept him motivated at this age, he mentioned”You should play till the time your body supports you and till the time you keep enjoying the game. I have missed so much cricket that if it was in my hands I would like to play for another 10 years. Even if you play only T20 cricket, it is not easy for a fast bowler. I am not a 120-125 bowler and I am not somebody who is a third change or a fourth change. I have always been a spearhead. In T20, I bowl in first six and last four overs. That takes its toll on the body. I look forward to New Zealand ODI or T20 series but the goal is to work hard for two-three years. ” ALSO READ: Ashish Nehra: Of aeroplane celebrations, brilliance, injury and more

Nehra being the senior most member in the bowling department is also mentor to young bowlers in the team. His experience and knowledge is something he likes to share with young talents coming into the team, “I help the youngsters if the captain and team management want. Ultimately it is up to the players – whether it is Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav or Bhuvneshwar Kumar. They have to do it themselves. What I taught was what I learnt from my own mistakes. I did not want them to commit those mistakes.”

Nehra’s comeback into the Indian team after 4 years is a story in itself. Many would have doubted the left-arm seamer but Nehra’s belief in himself was for all to see. When asked if he had any regrets for missing out on so many years of cricket for the Indian team, he said “I am a laidback, happy-go-lucky guy. I have a beautiful wife and lovely children. I know I could have played a few more games between 2011-15 and helped India win a few more games. I could have given to Indian cricket more and played 125 more ODIs (he has played 120). But I have no bitterness toward selectors, coaches, captains or the BCCI. I did well for CSK for two years in the IPL and Champions League and it may have surprised some but I never had any doubt about my abilities.”

Nehra’s comeback has been backed by impressive performances in the IPL for the CSK franchise but he feels he was doing well even prior to the IPL as well. Nehra said “T20 format is such that even if you bowl well, you don’t get noticed. You bowl badly in the last four overs when the batsmen go after you and you end up taking 20 wickets in a season. Last 2-3 years I was noticed at CSK but the same Ashish Nehra was doing the same prior to that. It is not that India had only four-five bowlers in the last four-five years. The team has had at least 25 fast bowlers since the 2011 World Cup and I did not get a chance. Two years prior to the 2011 World Cup, I was the highest wicket taker in T20 and ODIs. During that time, only Shakib-al-Hasan had taken more wickets in the world than me (in ODI and T20s). Please explain this to me that a bowler injures himself in the semi-final on the ground, the team wins the World Cup and then tries 25 others but never picks me. Is it justified?” ALSO READ: IPL 2016: Ashish Nehra’s knee operation successful

Nehra has had the chance of playing with an entirely different team as compared to the team he was once part of when Sourav Ganguly was the captain. Nehra, the cricketer though doesn’t like comparisons. When asked about the difference he said – “Not just Indian cricket but world cricket changes every decade. It is difficult to compare. Although I know the media indulges in such comparisons. Unlike before, today, I am the oldest member of the side and may be that is the difference. ”

Nehra, when asked about star Indian batsman Virat Kohli’s magnificent run-of-form Nehra felt he should continue doing what he does best. Nehra summed up by saying – “Do I need to say anything? Everyone talks about him only. I would rather speak about someone who needs support rather than someone who is on a different planet. Virat is on an auto-pilot mode. I hope he continues.”