Yuvraj Singh’s message on Ashish Nehra after his retirement is emotional. Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra have played a lot of cricket together. They also got into the national side in the same year 1999, hence they understand each other better than most. The 1st T20I against New Zealand at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi was Ashish Nehra’s last international match for which he had made the announcement well in advance. It was a perfect farewell for Nehra as India beat New Zealand for the first time in T20Is and too by 53 runs. Virat Kohli gave Nehra the new ball and also allowed him to bowl the last over of the match. It was too perfect, even when Nehra bowled the last over the camera panned to a huge placard that read ‘we will miss you Nehraji’.
Yuvraj spilt that Nehra was given the nickname of ‘Popat’ by Sourav Ganguly as he used to talk a lot. “He can talk even under water!” He also described his first meeting with ‘Ashu’ and said ‘he was like a cat on an extremely hot tin roof’.
In a long Facebook post titled ‘Resilience of Mr Ashish Nehra’, Yuvraj wrote:
Ashish Nehra-The first thing that I can say about my buddy Ashu is that he is an extremely honest man… woh dil ka bahut saaf aadmi hai. Perhaps only a holy book is more honest than him. I know a few jaws are dropping and a many more eyes are popping out after reading this. At times we all can be judgemental about people and life. Public figures even more so and are judged on various parameters. In this case Ashu was too straightforward for some people and suffered because of that. But to me he was always Ashu or Nehra ji, a fun guy who was honest and never let his team down.
I first met him in my under-19 days and he had got picked for the Indian team. He was sharing room with Harbhajan Singh. I had gone to see Bhajji and noticed this tall, lean guy who just couldn’t stay still. He was like a cat on an extremely hot tin roof. He’d be sitting still one moment and all of a sudden break into a stretch or twitch his face or just roll his eyes. I found it extremely funny and thought may be someone has put ants in his pants. Later on when we played for India I realised that is the way Ashu is-someone who could not stay still. As for the ants, their hard work quotient was in his game which I will come to a little later.
Sourav Ganguly gave Ashu the nickname Popat as he talked a lot. I mean he can talk even under water! Plus he is hilarious. For me he doesn’t need to speak, there is something about his body language that is so funny. Agar aap Ashish Nehra k saath ho to aap ka din kharaab nahin jaa sakta…NO CHANCE. Wo banda aap ko hassa-hassa k gira dega. I have never told him this but secretly I have drawn inspiration from him. I used to think that if this guy at the age of 38, with all his injuries and surgeries can bowl fast then why can’t I bat at 36. Frankly, this is what is keeping me going even today.
This is quite an ode to the now-retired left-arm seamer. The second T20I will take place at Rajkot on November 4.