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Yuvraj Singh bids an emotional goodbye to Nehra Ji

Sourav Ganguly nicknamed Nehra as 'Popat'.

Ashish Nehra and Yuvraj Singh
(Photo Source: Getty Images)

Ashish Nehra played the final game of his International career on Wednesday in the first T20I against New Zealand in Delhi. The left-arm fast bowler famously bowled the last over of the innings and became emotional in the end during the victory lap around the Ferozshah Kotla Stadium with his teammates. However, Yuvraj Singh has left a long message for him on his Facebook wall which will surely make Nehra even more emotional. He has recalled some of the fond memories during his playing days when they shared the dressing room.

Yuvraj and Nehra made their international debut in the same year in 1999 and both have been stalwarts of the Indian cricket in their own way. While Nehra battled with 12 surgeries through his 19 year-long career, the swashbuckling batsman overcame the death scare and came back on the field recovering from Cancer. Yuvraj, in his post, has hailed the 38-year-old for his resilience on and off the field. He also termed his spell of 6/23 against England in World Cup in 2003 as the best one which he had bowled with his injured ankle.

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Yuvi also revealed that the former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly had hilariously nicknamed as ‘Popat’ (Parrot) as he used to talk a lot. He also said that Nehra can even talk under water. However, he also hailed him for being a humble and honest person throughout his life.

Yuvraj is currently out of the national side and is striving hard to make his return. He last donned India jersey against the Caribbean side earlier this year in June. He was also the part of the side which made it to the finals of the ICC Champions Trophy. But since then has been ignored and his failure to clear the yo-yo fitness test and made things worse for him. He is also not featuring in the ongoing Ranji Trophy for Punjab consistently. However, it remains to be seen if he can make another stellar comeback into the side like he has done many times in his career.

Here is the complete post of Yuvi for Nehra Ji:

Ashish Nehra – The first thing that I can say about my buddy Ashu is that he is an extremely honest man…woh dil ka bahut saaf aadmi hai (He is a pure-hearted man). Perhaps only a holy book is more honest than him.

I know a few jaws are dropping and a many more eyes are popping out after reading this. At times we all can be judgmental about people and life. Public figures even more so and are judged on various parameters.

In this case Ashu was too straightforward for some people and suffered because of that. But to me he was always Ashu or Nehra ji, a fun guy who was honest and never let his team down.

I first met him in my under-19 days and he had got picked for the Indian team. He was sharing room with Harbhajan Singh. I had gone to see Bhajji and noticed this tall, lean guy who just couldn’t stay still. He was like a cat on an extremely hot tin roof.

He’d be sitting still one moment and all of a sudden break into a stretch or twitch his face or just roll his eyes. I found it extremely funny and thought may be someone has put ants in his pants. Later on when we played for India I realised that is the way Ashu is – someone who could not stay still. As for the ants, their hard work quotient was in his game which I will come to a little later.

Sourav Ganguly gave Ashu the nickname Popat as he talked a lot. I mean he can talk even under water! Plus he is hilarious. For me he doesn’t need to speak, there is something about his body language that is so funny.

Agar aap Ashish Nehra k saath ho to aap ka din kharaab nahin jaa sakta (If you are with Ashish Nehra, you can’t have a bad day)…NO CHANCE. Wo banda aap ko hassa-hassa k gira dega (The guy will make you go rolling over floor laughing). I have never told him this but secretly I have drawn inspiration from him.

I used to think that if this guy at the age of 38, with all his injuries and surgeries can bowl fast then why can’t I bat at 36. Frankly this is what is keeping me going even today.

Ashu has had 11 surgeries – elbow, hip, ankle, finger, both knees just to name a few. But what kept him going were his hard work and the burning desire to do well.

I remember during the 2003 World Cup he badly twisted his ankle. There was no way he could have played the next game against England. But Nehra ji kept pestering everyone that he wants to play.

By the end of it all even the hotel attendants in Durban knew how keen Ashu was! Agley 72 hours usnay 30-40 baar apney ankle ki icing karee, taping karee, pain-killers khayey (For the next 72 hours, he himself did Ice compressing of his ankle for 30-4- times, he had pain killers, id taping of his knee) and rather miraculously was ready to play. The outside world thought he didn’t care but we knew how much he did.

Six wickets for 23 runs and India beat England by 82 runs.

Ashu is a team-man to the core. In 2011 World Cup semi-final against Pakistan he bowled an outstanding spell but unfortunately got injured due to which he had to miss the finals.

I know a lot of players would have got into self-pity, brooding mode but not him. Woh hassta rehtaa thaa (He used to keep laughing) and was available to help everyone.

He was with us in Mumbai for finals against Sri Lanka and would organise drinks, towels and even offer advice wherever it was required. For an outsider these may seem irrelevant inputs but when you play a team sport and you have a senior member effortlessly easing himself into the background roles it is extremely heartening.

He is blessed with a great family too. He has two amazing kids – son Aarush

and daughter Aaraina. Aarush bowls too but his action is better than his dad’s (thank Heavens for that, LoL).

Ashu has never been humble about his batting. I have often laughed my lungs out when he has shamelessly used words like ‘legendary’ for his batting skills.

Not only that, he often claimed that he’d have played till the age of 45 if he were a batsman! But who knows, it is his farewell game, in his hometown Delhi, the world is watching, may be Ashu could end up hitting the winning runs. I am sure I am not the only one praying for a perfect ending to his script.

It is an emotional time for me and I am sure for him and his family too. I am grateful Cricket has given me a true friend whom I’ll always cherish.

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