April 29 marks the birthday of old warhorse of Indian cricket Ashish Nehra, who despite a career plagued with injuries and surgeries, kept battling them, culminating into a long successful career.
Nehra is fondly remembered for his dream spell against England at the 2003 ODI World Cup in South Africa. He ended up with figures of 6/23, still the best spell by any Indian bowler in the World Cups.
The match was played at Kingsmead in Durban on February 26, 2003. After winning the toss, India posted a par score of 250, powered by knocks from Yuvraj Singh, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. Dravid and Tendulkar notched up half-centuries during India’s effort.
Sachin’s pull shot off Andrew Caddick in that inning remains etched in the memories for many enthusiasts. Chasing a challenging total, England got the worst possible start as they lost their openers with just 18 on the board.
Nehra, being handed the ball as first change, ran through the English batting lineup with his immaculate line and lengths. Wicketkeeper Dravid picked up three nicks of Nehra’s bowling, while Sehwag at slips held on to two catches.
Only Alec Stewart was caught in front of the stumps on a golden duck. Nehra’s other victims being Michael Vaughan, Paul Collingwood, Nasser Hussain, Craig White and Ronnie Irani, who were all dismissed identically, caught in the slips cordon or by the wicketkeeper. Nehra received strong support from Zaheer Khan at the other end, who finished with a couple of wickets for just 29 runs.
Nehra was also seen puking on the ground, but that did not stop him bowling his entire quota of ten overs. In the end, it turned out to be a cakewalk for the Indian team as they cruised to an 82-run win over England. Nehra walked away with the ‘Man of the Match award’ for his supreme effort.