'Whoever plays domestic cricket, their goal is to play for India. For me, playing for India after a gap of four years is an amazing feeling.'
Veteran Ashish Nehra has had a career plagued with injuries. Now, he has come to a stage where he doesn't leave anything to chance, so much so that he stays away from the customary game of football during the Indian team's training sessions.
"I would love to play football with the team, but I have had so many injuries in the past, so I try to keep football away from my schedule," said Nehra, who made his international comeback after four years with the T20s in Australia and is looking forward to Asia Cup and the World T20.
Nehra is loving being in the Indian dressing room after a long gap and doesn't mind performing the role assigned to him, that is to bowl in the first six overs and complete his spell in the death overs.
"Whoever plays domestic cricket, their goal is to play for India. For me, playing for India after a gap of four years is an amazing feeling," the 36-year-old told bcci.tv.
On his role as a death bowler, he said: "I would love to do that job. Those are tough overs to bowl, and if the captain wants me to bowl in the first six and final overs, that means I am bowling well. I have done that in the IPL (Indian Premier League) under the same captain (Mahendra Singh Dhoni at Chennai Super Kings)."
Nehra is also pleased to see the rise of young fast bowler Jaspreet Bumrah, who impressed during the recently-concluded limited-overs tour of Australia.
"It is not easy for a young bowler like him (Bumrah) to land in the country and play two days later. The way he bowled in Australia and is shaping up, is great to see. In this format it is not easy for any bowler -- at times, you bowl well but still go for runs. It is a tough format but it is good for him that he has played for Mumbai Indians and has that experience of bowling in this format. That’s what the IPL gives to young Indian players."
He had words of praise for all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
"I call him a West Indian guy from Baroda, because of his mannerisms and demeanour. He is very comfortable and an easy going guy. He is an amazing talent and a fast bowling all-rounder that India need. I definitely see potential. If he works hard and everything falls in place, he will be really good for India, especially in One-Day cricket."
Image: Ashish Nehra celebrates a wicket.
Photograph: Matt King/Getty Images