The 2003 World Cup match between India and England saw a sensational bowling effort from seamer Ashish Nehra. The former India pacer picked up six wickets in the match as England were bundled out for 168 in 251-run chase in Durban. Nehra dismissed England captain Nasser Hussain, Micahel Vaughan, Alec Stewart, Paul Collingwood, Craig White and Ronnie Irani in the match. But while the records are written in the history books, the events behind the scenes are rarely discussed.
Former India cricketer Aakash Chopra, on Tuesday, recalled how Nehra had a heavily swollen leg a day before the encounter due to an injury, and had to play the entire game with the injury.
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Speaking in his latest video uploaded on his official Facebook page, Chopra said: “World Cup 2003, India vs England on Durban pitch. It was a close contest. England were at 52/2 chasing 250. Ashish Nehra came into the attack. He takes a great run-up, gets a leading edge off from the bat and England captain Nasser Hussain had to return to the pavilion. Great breakthrough. Then, came Alex Tudor (It was Paul Collingwood). He got out LBW. Michael Vaughan was caught behind. With this, half of England’s team fell down like a pack of cards. The Indian lions roared.
“But wait, you know this story, already right? Let me take you to the flashback, behind the scenes. This heavily swollen leg kept inside a bucket of ice… who is it? This is the same Ashish Nehra who, the very next day, stepped out on the field to rattle England batting unit with a swollen leg. As we say, there is nothing greater than a person’s will. Not even injuries. If Nehra ji has decided that he will play against England, then no one can stop him,” Chopra recalled.
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“So, Nehra filled a buck full of ice, and kept his heavily swollen leg inside the bucket for hours. The next day, he heavily taped and bandaged his swollen leg, and wore thick, tight socks. Even though, it was even difficult for him to wear his shoes, he still got ready, stood up and went off to the field. With Dada’s faith in him, and his self-believe, Nehra ji achieved wonders which no one expected.
“Nehra took a 6-wicket haul – a feat which no other Indian bowler has been able to achieve during a World Cup game. The thing to remember here is that the records will continue to be broken. The real story is that of the passion, and not giving up. An injury can affect your body, but not your determination. Long Live, Nehra ji,” Chopra signed off.
Nehra retired from international cricket in 2017, having played 17 Tests, 120 ODIs and 27 T20Is for India.