On April 5th, against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Ashish Nehra picked up his 100th wicket in the IPL. In doing so, he became the first left-arm bowler to achieve this feat. Now 38, Nehra hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down but admits it’s getting tougher.
“If I say it doesn’t make a difference at my age, I’d be lying. For me, recovery is as important as training. At the age of 38, for any cricketer, it becomes difficult let alone fast bowlers. You have to put extra yards in recovery and training. I have my routine which I follow, it’s helping me,” he explained.
Nehra is into his second season with the Sunrisers Hyderabad – his fifth IPL team in 10 seasons. Speaking to reporters ahead of his side’s match against Mumbai Indians on Wednesday, the veteran bowler explained this is part and parcel of being a professional athlete.
“As a professional cricketer, you adapt. Every franchisee has a different way of looking at the game but you have to get used to it. If you see all the football players, every season or two, they play for different clubs so we’re used to this.”
Over the past decade, Nehra has honed his skills and established himself as one of the best death bowlers in the world. Variations are something he’s mastered over time and Ashish had a few words of advice for bowlers who dread bowling at the death.
“Yorker is one word I’ve been hearing a lot in T20 cricket. It’s very easy to say, ‘oh bowl a yorker!’ Somebody who has never bowled one, especially on a ground like Mumbai where the ball is wet. If everything is under control, I would bowl six!
Mental aspect of the game is key
Nehra reckons half the battle is won in the mind but he explained that one can’t possibly churn out yorkers by the truckloads. Not losing heart is crucial according to the experienced campaigner, especially when bowling during the fag end of the innings.
“It’s not that easy. Bowling at the death, you have to be mentally very strong. So many times, I’ve seen the first two balls you ball goes for a six, so you feel this over will go for 25”.
If you’re mentally strong, you can still bowl a 15 run over. Sometimes you bowl 3 overs for 18 and you think today is a good day then the last over goes for 20. Your day is over only after you’ve bowled the 4 overs,” he stated.
Ready for the Champions Trophy
The 2017 ICC Champions Trophy will commence no sooner than 10 days after the IPL final. Nehra said that if his services would be required, he is ready. But disapproved that the Indian team is especially looking for a left arm seamer.
“It’s not necessary that they’ll be looking for a left arm seamer. Everybody knows what I can do if I am fit. If the captain and coach want me, I am ready and fit.
But yes, every team likes variety. We have people like Bhuvneshwar Kumar who can swing the ball, Jasprit Bumrah is really good with the old ball.”
While T20 cricket largely remains a batsman’s game, Nehra put things into perspective. The Delhiite believes that bowlers are actively finding new ways to shift the pendulum in their favour. He reckons that until scores of 200 don’t become a regular scenario, it’s still a game between bat and ball.
“From 2007 till date, cricket has changed. Batsmen are playing new shots, boundaries are smaller. But as a bowler, you can’t look at these negatives, be positive. You see so many bowlers bowling yorkers outside off stump or slower bouncers. Bowlers are looking for the tricks as well. Every time the batsman doesn’t win, if that was the case every game will be 200-220 runs,” he signed off.