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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Interview > Ashish Nehra

'I want to repeat the England performance'

March 04, 2003

Ashish NehraAshish Nehra has been India's most underrated bowler over the last two years despite being among the wickets regularly. Four years ago, Sachin Tendulkar had marked him out for special mention after watching him swing the ball prodigiously against Sri Lanka in the Asian Test Championship. Last week, braving a swollen ankle, the Delhi fast bowler ripped through the England batting line-up and returned the best figures ever by an Indian in World Cup history.

Earlier in the World Cup, after darting the ball in at 149 kph against Zimbabwe in Harare, Nehra had earned himself the tag of 'fastest Indian bowler'.

"It is a great feeling to have bowled the fastest ball. I have been bowling well in patches but over the last two months I have come to believe that I can bowl better," he told Assistant Editor Faisal Shariff, shortly after his record-breaking feat of six wickets for 23 runs in ten overs against England at Kingsmead, Durban. Excerpts:


Could you describe the plan you had in mind when you got those six wickets against England?

There was no great plan as such. However, the wicket had bounce and I tried to bowl a good line. It was a pressure game, moreso after Zaheer [Khan] and Sri [Javagal Srinath] bowled well at the start. That helped me. I used the conditions well, and it worked for me.

You mentioned Michael Vaughan as the most special wicket amongst the six you picked...

He was the man in form. He had played well in the Ashes and the VB series. I got him caught behind, because I was just getting the ball to pitch right on target and the ball was moving nicely under lights. That particular ball to Vaughan went away just the way it beat Paul Collingwood and Nasser Hussain. There was a lot of pressure on them after that.

You have a reputation of taking the big wicket in crucial games. You had Brian Lara thrice during the West Indies tour, and Andy Flower a couple of times in Zimbabwe. Does bowling to them spur you on?

It does spur me on, because those wickets are most important for the team to win. I think I have been fortunate enough to get the big wickets. Of course, I try my best and it helps the team.

We have a plan in every game. For every batsman we have to have a plan. I spot weaknesses in the computer session we have. One spell can turn the game.

At 149 kmph in Harare you bowled the fastest ball ever by an Indian. What would you attribute it to?

It is my fitness. Thanks to Adrian [Le Roux] and Andrew [Leipus], who have helped me enormously. We have been playing really well over the last year or so and there is no injury till now. Adrian has helped Zaheer and me a lot over the last three months. For example, against England I bowled my ten overs on the trot without feeling tired.

Did you believe you are capable of 149 kph?

I was bowling 142-143 consistently in India against the West Indies but nobody noticed. Even in Harare, on that slow wicket, I was consistently bowling 148-149 kph and it was special for me. I knew I could bowl fast.

Are you looking to increase your speed to touch the 150-plus mark?

No. The main thing on a good wicket is to swing the ball and maintain line and length. Speed helps with the old ball, but my strength is good line and length, and that is what I will concentrate on in one-dayers.

Zaheer Khan and you have a great partnership...

Ashish NehraZaheer is a different bowler from me. He opens the innings and I bowl first-change. We have been bowling well since the last six months

It is a great help to the team to have two good left-arm seamers. I depend on swing and also pace, which I have increased over the last two months, but Zaheer concentrates on hitting the deck and landing the ball on the seam and bowling yorkers.

What happened against Pakistan, you went off the boil?

It was a good wicket to bat on. I bowled badly because I could not get my rhythm in the first three-four overs. It is not a problem for me; it was a high-scoring game.

Your goal for this World Cup.

I want to win the World Cup and repeat the England performance.

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