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It had been over a month since Ashish Nehra held the ball in his hand in this year’s IPL. The last time he played for his new franchise – Chennai Super Kings – was in Abu Dhabi, against Kings XI Punjab. Since then, Nehra has been going through rehabilitation to recover from a muscle tear that he sustained during one of his practice sessions.
But on Saturday night, it did not look like Nehra was coming back after an injury layoff. In his four overs, he picked up three wickets, which helped Chennai Super Kings restrict Royal Challengers Bangalore to 154. Thanks to the bowling effort, CSK registered a convincing eight-wicket victory to carry the winning momentum into the Playoffs. For Nehra, it was all about putting up a good show after being out of action for more than a month, and the three wickets he picked were like a cherry on the cake for the left-arm pacer.
In this post-match chat with IPLT20.com, Nehra speaks about his comeback and talks about how he hopes to put up more meaningful performances for his franchise in the games to come.
Excerpts from his interview:
Would you say it was satisfying to be amongst the wickets after your injury?
After the first game, I had a side strain and unfortunately I tore my abdomen muscle during one of the practice sessions. To be honest with you, I have only started bowling recently. I was not even bowling to the batsmen in the nets; I was only bowling to a single wicket during my bowling drills. If you keep all such things in mind and then look at my performance, I would say that it was a good show.
How tough is it to be out of action and then perform when asked to bowl against a strong batting line-up like RCB?
It is tough to bowl in the first few overs and at the death in T20s, especially in Bangalore where you have players like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. We all know that the wicket in Bangalore is a high-scoring one, and it was important to get wickets at regular intervals. When I was bowling up front, my whole motive was to take a wicket or two with the new ball so that the likes of Virat, AB and Yuvraj could face the new ball as much as possible. We thought this would also help the other bowlers to pick wickets with the new ball. It was all about applying yourself on the given day and it was quite nice to be among the wickets after a long injury layoff.
How did you plan to bowl to the likes of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Yuvraj Singh?
I haven’t been watching too many games since I was busy with my rehab. But I would like to say that our performance analyst Lakshmi Narayanan helped me a lot with regards to planning to different batsmen in the RCB line-up. We worked out our plans for AB de Villiers and the rest of the batsmen, and it feels nice when the plan works.
Three wickets in your four overs; would you say it was a satisfying performance?
I would not say that I am completely satisfied with my performance. This is just the beginning and there are bigger games to follow and we need to focus on those. I would only be happy if the team can play well in the semi-final and the final, and I put up some notable performances in those games.
Shane Watson recently told this website how having been with the Rajasthan Royals since the inception of the IPL has made him intensely attached to the franchise and the team. If anyone can testify that rare feeling in league cricket, it is Shaun Marsh – the only constant in the constantly changing Kings XI Punjab since the first IPL season.
This year has been very different for Marsh in good and tough ways as he finds himself amidst new faces, of players and coaches alike. The good bit is that his team is winning almost everything that is thrown its way and enters the Playoffs as the top-ranked side in the league. The tough part being that KXIP’s leading run-scorer has had to warm the bench as the new names have grabbed the headlines.
However, those days are behind Marsh. After playing his first game of the season, against Mumbai Indians, in Mohali, Marsh is back to his prolific ways with a Man of the Match winning 40 (off 35 balls) against Rajasthan Royals.
After KXIP’s 16-run win over RR, IPLT20.com caught up with Marsh to pick his brain on the new-look KXIP.
Here are excerpt from his interview:
Back on the field, back among runs – relieved, happy?
Oh, yes! It’s so nice to be back playing for the Kings XI. To win and cement our spot at the top of the table is even more gratifying. There’s a great feeling within the group and I’m really happy for all the boys. And this ground – I love playing here. I’ve been playing on this ground for seven IPL seasons now and to come back and play in front of these people again feels like this is my second home.
That Man of the Match trophy looks good in your hand again.
I scored a few runs but our bowlers were incredible. I think our leg-spinner, Karanveer Singh (4-0-16-2), deserved the Man of the Match award more than I did. Full credit to him. RR have a really good batting order and to keep them down on this wicket was an excellent effort.
You are the only constant in this completely revamped KXIP team. How do you feel seeing all these new faces around?
It’s good to have fresh energy around and be surrounded by positivity. It’s nice to have a captain like George Bailey who is a very positive guy and is leading the team beautifully. What has clicked nicely this time is the perfect mixture of senior and younger players we have. We’ve got some exciting young Indian players who are coming through really well and performing under pressure. The senior guys are leading the way for them and supporting them in every way. It is also good to have a coach like Sanjay Bangar; he has done a great job with all the players and so has Joe Dawes. The coaching staff and the players have gelled really well together.
You must have seen a lot of Glenn Maxwell. Do you think this is the best he has been, in terms of both form and mental state?
I think so. He’s been phenomenal and batted beautifully. Hopefully, he has a few more big innings left in him this season, which we will need in the knockout games. It is an enormous asset to have someone like him who can take the game away in a couple of overs. You match him with David Miller and George Bailey and it’s a fairly potent middle order there.
Have you been spending a lot of time with Virender Sehwag? What would you like to have from his batting?
I’ve enjoyed Viru’s company over the last six weeks. He’s an absolute gem of a person and he’s always there for a chat whenever you want one. He can talk about cricket any time, and with his kind of experience, it is very special to listen to what he has to say. You can learn a lot from just listening to him. Plus, his sixes over cover are pretty special!