Into the third week of IPL’s fifth edition, it’s finally starting to dawn on the world what makes IPL so competitive and compelling to watch, so full of twists and turns, and inglorious uncertainties.
What nobody realised, until recently, is that the sauce that makes this curry special is one man who, if you cast eyes upon once, will haunt you in your sleep for the rest of your lives. One player who, if you are unlucky to have in your favorite team, can make you tear your hair out in frustration. (Yes, that’s exactly how I lost mine.)
That player is none other than Ashish Nehra.
And the best thing about this tournament is that every team has an Ashish Nehra. Here’s a sample.
This year, Delhi Daredevils looks just like the city did during the Commonwealth Games. All dressed up and nowhere to go.
They may have Viru, Mahela, KP, Roscoe, Morkel and that pocket dynamite yet to come, but let’s not forget that they also have a real Nehra alive and kicking in their ranks.
In fact, so potent is this Nehra that, if fate had dealt a slightly different hand, this category could even have been called Ajit Agarkar. The Nehraness in him tends to vary from mildly toxic to fatal, the toxicity determined by how red his ears are at that point in time.
With his propensity to sulk and leave the team when dropped, Delhi Daredevils will find it very difficult to keep this Nehra’s influence sedated.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Like the Curse wasn’t enough, KKR also has deal with a unique Ashish Nehra from within. Largely in a dormant state, he rears his head every once in a while. And that’s precisely what makes him so dangerous.
He stays in the team without attracting much attention or criticism, churning out standard fare par performances day in and day out. And, right in the end, in a crunch must-win situation, the Nehra in him erupts in full fury and takes the whole team down.
In a situation where KKR needs to defend 20 runs off the last over to go into the play offs with a bonus point, he is most likely to bowl full tosses and long hops, ball after ball, with ‘Hit me’ written all over it in luminous colors. Hopefully, for KKR fans, no further introduction is required.
It has to be one of the cruelest strokes of fate that we are being deprived of the joys of watching a true modern great, a man who has successfully made the transition from being India’s next big hope to India’s next big Nehra hope, a man whose achievements are as great as his Adam’s apple.
In fact, his previous team KKR’s IPL record is testimony to this man’s ability to conjure up defeats from the most impossible of situations.
DC’s Nehra is missing this year through an injury but, between Dan Christian and Dale Steyn, they have ensured they don’t miss him much.
But, if you look at it closely, a team that’s vowed not to let any other team get even a sniffing chance at the No. 9 spot, doesn’t really need a Nehra, does it?
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Just like their owner likes to rotate women in his famous calendar, RCB has adopted a rotation policy in their Nehra. A different player assumes the role in each match.
Other than the usual suspects, this season RCB has shocked the world by making a Nehra out of a future India captain. So dented is the man’s ego that he’s said to be suffering from erectile dysfunction in his finger.
The world isn’t complaining, though.
Pune Warriors India
You got to be kiddin’ me. Who needs a duplicate when you have the original?