It’s safe to say that Sachin Tendulkar will never be forgotten. Or Virat Kohli, for that matter. Same is the case with MS Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly, and a whole lot of others. In fact, most of us remember several members of the 1983 World Cup-winning team. Ashish Nehra certainly does. He was just 5 years old back then. But the dream that was realised for the country by Kapil’s Devils inspired Nehra to become an international cricketer. And he did. 33 years later, he still has that hunger, that fire in his belly. And for that will to play and that determination to never back down, the nation owes Ashish Nehra a big, heartfelt thank you!
Dear Ashish Nehra,
The year was 2003,
The venue was Durban,
England were the opponents,
And you tore through their line up,
6 for 23 and the Brits didn’t even have a prayer,
You helped us to the World Cup final,
Where we were denied by the mighty Aussies,
So close, yet so far!
It was a collective failure,
No one from the Indian team really turned up that day,
But you faced the brunt of that defeat,
For four years, you were in the wilderness,
Fighting your way back,
Never giving up,
At an age where most people are still making their debut,
We retired you,
But you still did not give up on us…
The resilience paid off,
Four years later, in 2007, you found your way back into the team,
And you were at your consistent best,
At a time, when others faltered,
You stood strong and got us wickets,
Slowly but surely, you had become our main man with the ball.
Then the 2011 World Cup happened,
And you sizzled as always,
You were one of our main bowlers,
With wickets at crucial intervals,
You helped us beat Pakistan yet again in the semis,
But a broken figure meant that you missed the final,
It meant that when we tasted World Cup glory,
You weren’t a part of the party,
And just like that, we forgot you again.
The finger healed, but we had moved on.
And yet, you didn’t give up on us.
I’m sorry the world judged you for your injuries,
They judged you for your wrist and your ankle,
When they should’ve judged you for your heart,
The heart that never stopped bleeding for India,
Bleeding blue, for the sake of our country…
But you were never one to back down,
You never got this far because you gave up too easy,
You bounced back yet again,
And in 2016, four years on, you were our main man yet again.
But gone was the young buck trying to prove himself,
Gone was that youthful timidity and impatience,
You were wise and experienced,
A father figure, guiding the young ones on,
With you in our ranks, we had a perfect Asia cup,
And a near perfect World T20…
We sizzled and dazzled as we cruised towards the final,
With you in the thick of things as always,
You weren’t just a bowler anymore,
You were a shoulder of support, a word of advice, a think tank,
You produced moments of magic,
And you helped others produce them too.
Then came the disappointment against the West Indies,
And in one moment, all hopes of glory was dashed,
The trophy we deserved was taken away from us,
Virat Kohli deserved the World T20 trophy, they said,
They weren’t wrong, but they forgot that you deserved one too.
Now, at 37, your playing days are behind you,
You gave it your all on the field, and more,
And for that, we are grateful,
We will never forget,
Because many times we’ve taken you for granted,
And forgotten you in a hurry,
But you never gave up on us,
And you kept coming back for us,
And now as you prepare to walk away into the sunset,
This is us letting you know,
That you, along with everything you did, will never be forgotten,
We will always remember,
Thank you, Ashish Nehra.
We love you,
And we’ll miss you when you’re gone!