Despite not playing so many matches for India, Ashish Nehra was one of the most popular cricketers in the country. Retired from active cricket after the first T20I against New Zealand in New Delhi, Nehra aka 'Nehraji' achieved fame and popularity mainly due to two things – his match-winning spells and his witty, charming personality.
Nehra started his international career in 1999, and played an important role four years later en route reaching the 2003 World Cup final and was also part of the trophy-winning squad in 2011. But his career was plagued with injuries and he could never really play on a stretch for his country.
The Kotla T20I on Wednesday was Nehra’s 164th international match. It took the speedster 20 years and as many as 12 surgeries to reach the milestone.
Not the one to mince words, Nehra wears his heart on his sleeve and that's what makes him quite fascinating. Here, we take a look at some of his quotes that made him the person and the player he is:
"I don't know what has happened. Whether it is my face, I don't know. I'm happy that my wife likes my face."
– Nehra was at cheeky-best when he was asked about selectors ignoring him.
"Nachna mujhe aata nahin, uske liye 2 vodka lagenge." (I don’t know how to dance. To dance, I need to have two vodka shots)
– Nehra was candid enough to admit that he needs two vodka shots in order to dance.
"I would love the mind of 38-year-old Nehra along with the body of the 22-year-old."
– While answering a question of his fitness during a press conference ahead of his final international match.
“If you can, then sprint. If not, then run. Can’t run? Then jog. Won’t jog? Then at least walk! Can’t walk? Then crawl but just keep on moving.”
Nehra delved into the history books and came out with this Martin Luther King Jr quote, revealing his life's mantra.
"It is always better to retire when people are saying why rather than why not. I always wanted to retire on a high."
– This was Nehra when he announced his retirement.
"You are asking this questions to a wrong person because I am somebody who's not on social media and I'm still using my old Nokia. I'm not on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and I don't read newspapers."
– When a journalist asked Nehra's view on the social media tussle between Indian and Bangladesh fans in 2016.
"I didn't play much under Greg Chappell save two series in 2005 (in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe). Mujhe pehle series se hi maloom thaa yeh biryani khichdi bannewali hain Greg ke under (I knew biryani would turn into Khichdi under Greg).
– Greg Chappell was never a popular figure in India and Nehra gives his opinion on the much-maligned coach with a biryani twist.
"It’s been a great journey. Maybe one regret. If I could change anything in these 20 years, that afternoon in Johannesburg during the 2003 World Cup final. But nothing else as it’s all about destiny."
– Nehra talks about his one regret – the World Cup final defeat against Australia.
"Sometimes if you are too successful, you don't know what failure is."
– The man from Delhi takes the philosophical route to answer a question about success and failures.
"I'm always happy, retired or not"
– Nehra's answer to Sanjay Manjrekar when the commentator wished him a happy retirement life.