Ashish Nehra joined a rare league of cricketers who could pick the day of their retirement from international cricket.
The India-New Zealand first T20I at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Wednesday was the left-arm seamer’s last appearance in India colours.
Sunil Gavaskar was among the prominent cricketers who chose to call it a day on his terms with that epic innings of 96 against the Imran Khan-led Pakistan at Bangalore in 1987.
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In fact, he had invited the press on the rest day to let them know his intentions even though his final appearance was to follow — the Reliance World Cup. The semifinal loss against England became Gavaskar’s last match for India.
The honour of making the farewell lap, in a first, was bestowed on Sachin Tendulkar, who bid goodbye at the Wankhede Stadium after the Test against the West Indies in 2013. It was announced that he would take retirement after completing his 200th Test.
Even V.V.S. Laxman could have called it a day from the ground in Bangalore against New Zealand in 2012. He was picked for both the Tests, at Hyderabad and Bangalore, but chose to call it quits without figuring in either of them for reasons he never revealed publicly.
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M.S. Dhoni made a sensational exit from Test cricket on the tour to Australia in 2014 after leading the team at Brisbane and Melbourne. For the next Test at Sydney, he handed the mantle to Virat Kohli. Many stalwarts like Kapil Dev, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Virender Sehwag could not pick their retirement from the ground.
For Nehra, it was obviously an emotional moment when the special box, provided to accommodate his guests, featured his parents and his long-time coach. Tarak Sinha, the mentor who shaped Nehra’s career, was at the ground for the first time ever to watch his favourite ward.
“Ashish insisted I should come. Otherwise I have watched all his matches only on television. I have stayed away from his Ranji Trophy matches too,” said Sinha, who had two more old time coaches from Sonnet Club in the box — Davender Sharma and Harish Kumar.
Former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi kept his promise to Nehra to be at the ground while Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agarkar flew down from Mumbai. Also present were Nehra’s close friends Ajay Jadeja and Rajat Bhatia.
As a gesture to celebrate the occasions, the Delhi Gate end was temporarily named Ashish Nehra End while the Indian team presented him with a commemorative memento.
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