IPL 2016: Miracle man Ashish Nehra has restored himself as one of the best T20 bowlers in the world

The alchemy of a miracle is elusive, difficult to fathom or find, as it is for a scientist seeking to dissect the God particle. Ashish Nehra is no scientist, but at the ripe age of 37, he seems to have discovered the particle within himself to produce a season of memorable miracles. The veteran pacer has been in his element, first in the World T20 and now in the ninth season of the Indian Premier League. Nehra produced a lethal burst of pace bowling last night to decimate the Mumbai Indians and hand a critical victory to the Sunrisers Hyderabad.

At a time when most of his contemporaries are working in the backroom or wielding microphones, Nehra has somehow found the will and means to stitch up a final hurrah with his battered body. With an injury list that nearly covers the human anatomy, it is a near miracle that Nehra has found a way to restore himself to being one of the best T20 bowlers in the world at this time.

Ashish Nehra's spell wrecked the Mumbai Indians' top order. BCCI

Ashish Nehra's spell wrecked the Mumbai Indians' top order. BCCI

There may be plenty more to battle for on the road ahead, but Sunday’s 3-15 was a precious gift to his team, at a vital juncture of the league. With three teams tied on 10 points, including Mumbai and Hyderabad, Sunday’s contest between the two teams was a crucial game in establishing the hierarchy as we approach the end game of the IPL’s league phase.

Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner asserted themselves yet again to give the Sunrisers a solid platform built around their consistency. Yuvraj Singh showed glimpses of his best as he too flourished with the bat. But a target of 178 was far from insurmountable for the Indians, who have nearly eight players who can make an impact with the bat.

But Bhuvneshwar and Nehra made early inroads, leaving Mumbai in an embarrassing struggle through the rest of their tattered innings. Nehra’s disciplined effort this season has been one of the key factors influencing the success of the Sunrisers this season. Beyond delivering tight spells and timely wickets, Nehra is also the elder statesman of the team.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mustafizur Rahman and Barinder Sran have each turned to Nehra for his counsel on and off the field. And Nehra’s wisdom has been integral to shaping Hyderabad’s bowling resources into a feared unit. No wonder then that the pacer is being discussed as a potential addition to the Indian team’s coaching unit.

With the brilliance of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mustafizur Rahman taking centre stage, Nehra has been operating quietly in the background. He has kept things tight this season, delivering an incisive spell at the top before finishing off with a solid over or two towards the end of the innings.

But in his fifth match this season, Nehra took it upon himself to trip Mumbai with a probing spell of pace bowling. Though Bhuvneshwar was the one that delivered an early wicket, it was Nehra who dealt a body blow by removing Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu and Jos Butler in his first two overs.

It turned out to be a knockout punch that put the lights out for Mumbai and laid the platform for Sran, Moises Henriques and Mustafizur to finish the job. And inspired by Nehra’s early burst, each of those three bowlers played their support roles to perfection to give the Sunrisers a vitamin boost in a critical encounter against Mumbai.

Sunrisers are lying second on the table now, but they have played a couple of games fewer than the toppers, Gujarat Lions. The walloping that they handed Mumbai has also helped their net run rate rise to +0.61, substantially higher than the other teams in the running.

There are two matches in the next three days too, so fatigue might be the Sunrisers’ biggest threat. But if the bowling unit can retain their enthusiasm for battle, they may help the team seal a spot in the top four before the week is out.

Updated Date: May 09, 2016 17:17 PM

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