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Posts Tagged ‘Ashish Nehra’

After that Wanderers game , I argued long and hard with those who thought it a great game of cricket. Nearly four years on, my views haven’t changed. In the days to come, many will speak of Rajkot as another classic. Some opportunists might even come out with commemorative DVDs, but nothing will change the facts. A game in which batsmen score at more than eight an over hardly constitutes an even tussle between bat and ball. Great entertainment, sure. Great cricket? Not really.

If you want to watch a real classic, watch how Pakistan chased down New Zealand’s total in the World Cup semi-final in 1992, or better still, go and watch footage of the greatest one-day match of all, Edgbaston 1999. Until there’s a tie in a World Cup final, that will remain the greatest cricket played in coloured clothes. The enormity of the occasion and what was at stake ensured as much.

There were two big differences between Rajkot and the Wanderers though.

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Second innings

Even if Ashish Nehra had never played another game for India, he would always have had memories of Kingsmead, the famous old ground in Durban where he bowled 10 overs on the trot to decimate England’s World Cup dreams in 2003. The numbers were special enough – 6 for 23, the best figures for an Indian in a World Cup – but most people recall the tireless effort on a humid night, with the Indian Ocean’s roar eclipsed by that of the partisan crowd. There was also the moment that spawned all the “Nehra goes bananas” headlines, as he wolfed one down and promptly threw up by the side of the pitch.

By then, it was the English who were feeling a little ill. In truth, that game should have been Sachin Tendulkar’s stage. On the eve of the game, Andrew Caddick had dared to suggest that the man with 34 one-day hundreds [at the time] was vulnerable when opening the innings. Angus Fraser, his one-time teammate, was one of many dubious about Caddick’s attempt at what Steve Waugh called “mental disintegration” and the Independent ran a story by him that was headlined: Caddick foolishly throws down gauntlet to Tendulkar.

 

Tendulkar greeted Caddick with the most emphatic of sixes over midwicket, but that evening, even he was put in the shade by Nehra’s metronomic accuracy. He bowled just one short ball all night, and with the exception of Alec Stewart, who was trapped in front, the other wickets were all edges to the wicketkeeper or slip. It was a spell that had everything: genuine pace, subtle movement off the seam and just enough variation to keep the batsmen guessing. Few knew at the time that Nehra was already crocked, and in the queue for ankle surgery. (more…)

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