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Wright will do India a lot of good, says Ashish Nehra

Ashish Nehra
Ashish Nehra

Delhi left-arm paceman Ashish Nehra has been in stunning form all season. The 21-year-old flirted briefly with national colours two seasons ago in the Asian Test Championship against Sri Lanka. A surprise replacement for the injured Javagal Srinath, he savoured an early and, as it turned out, solitary success in the form of opener Marvan Atapattu on a true batting wicket. Banished to the domestic arena, Nehra's 1999-2000 season was truncated by a stress fracture of his ankle. A fully recovered Nehra has proved a handful for allcomers on the domestic circuit. The well-built lad can work up a sharp pace and his natural rhythm gets the ball to swing in to the righthander. He is currently leading the Ranji Trophy tally with 36 wickets in five games at a miserly 12.83. Nehra's crowning performance came in the Duleep Trophy last month. Against East Zone at Guwahati, he snared 7/14, proving unplayable on what he generously suggests was an unprepared wicket. Selection amongst the 25 probables for the upcoming Test series against Australia was a natural corollary. CricInfo caught up with Nehra during the conditioning camp and the Challenger Series in Chennai.

On his beginnings as a fast bowler

I was a fast bowler from the beginning. I always tried to bowl fast with the tennis ball and rubber ball in school. Wasim Akram was my idol, I used to see him on TV all the time. I play for the Sonnet Club in Delhi and my coach Mr. Tarik Sinha gave me a lot of inspiration. I've also batted well in some games for Delhi and North Zone, so I'm trying to work hard on my batting as well.

On his first class debut for Delhi

It was a very good moment for me. It's very difficult to play for your country and the same holds for your state. Delhi is a good team. It was very hard for me to make a permanent place. I had played a lot of club cricket in the Delhi league, so my confidence was very high. When I played my first game, I just tried to give my 100% and bowl well. My first wicket in the Ranji Trophy was Ajay Jadeja (against Haryana in 1997/98).

On his selection for the Asian Test Championship game against Sri Lanka

It was a little bit of a surprise for me but I was doing well in the domestic season. Before my selection, I took six or seven wickets against Tamil Nadu. That was my main performance. I was ready but not as much as I am right now. Obviously it was a great experience for me. But when I played in Colombo, it was a very good batting wicket and very hot also. I didn't take so many wickets, just one, but I think I bowled well.

On the transformation in his bowling this season

I missed a lot of matches in the last season because of an injury. I had an ankle problem. But this season I'm fully fit right now. My ankle was operated and am bowling very well.

On his approach in Indian conditions

Definitely you have to bowl fast and keep a good line or length because there is not much swing in Indian conditions. So I think speed is very important or else you will be hammered in one-day cricket. In domestic cricket I just try to bowl quick on a good line or length, bowl good bouncers, and basically try to get the batsman out as quickly as possible. Since there is not very much movement on Indian wickets, I just try to bowl reverse swing with the old ball.

On his most satisfying performance

It was this year against East Zone in the Duleep Trophy. I took seven wickets for 17 runs. The pitch was a bit unprepared, I'd say. It was not a good wicket for the batsmen but obviously a good wicket for me. I took 10 wickets two or three times, once against Himachal Pradesh on a very good pitch for batting, then against Punjab. I have taken a lot of wickets this season, 50-51 in 7-8 matches.

On the differing demands of domestic and international cricket

In international cricket you're under a lot of pressure and you have to bowl all six balls on a good line and length. If you bowl short or pitch it up in domestic cricket, you go for just ones or twos but at the higher level you will go for a six or four. Again in international cricket you have to be mentally strong. It's all mental and it's all from the heart.

On his impressions of the camp

This is a very good but very hard camp for us. The Indians are working hard at the moment. John Wright is a positive man, he's working very hard with the guys at fielding, batting, bowling, everything. I think he will do India a lot of good. We're working on our mental strength as well and Wright is helping us gain in confidence.

© CricInfo

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