New Delhi: Ashish Nehra drew curtains on his injury-prone career as India won their maiden Twenty20 match against New Zealand. The Virat Kohli-led side, who scored 202/3 after put in to bat, restricted the Black Caps to 149/9 to register a 53-run victory at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Wednesday.
Nehra’s career had a fairytale ending as India dominated the Kiwi side in all the three areas of the game to take 1-0 lead in the three-match T20 series. After the match, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan carried Nehra on their shoulders and gave him a perfect send-off.
During the match, Nehra produced a moment of brilliance; showcasing his football skills. So much so that the Indian skipper, who is one of the better fielders in the team, was stunned.
As New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson swept a Yuzvendra Chahal delivery, Nehra, who was manning the short fine-leg area, ran towards his right, stretched his right foot and the ball bounced off his shoe before Nehra threw it back. While the leg-spinner Chahal applauded the effort, Kohli, who is a huge football fan, could not hold back his big grin.
In the post-match presentation, Kohli was all praise for the veteran left-arm pacer.
"To have played 19 years is very hard for a fast bowler is a great achievement, especially after so many surgeries. I know how professional he's been and how hard he's worked. He asked always delivered whenever he has been asked to do. He deserved this kind of a farewell with the crowd cheering him. He can now spend time with his family, he's got a beautiful family. We'll stay in touch but we'll miss him and I wish him all the best," said the Indian captain.
Nehra has won many matches for India in his 19-year-old career, but the most iconic moment came during the 2003 World Cup against England, where the pacer ran through the Nasser Hussain-led side, claiming six wickets, conceding 23 runs. The Nehra spell, where he bowled 10 overs on a trot, helped India register a comprehensive win.
Nehra, who made his debut in 1999 and went on to play 164 matches across formats for India, was also a member of the MS Dhoni-led Indian team that won the 2011 World Cup.