Tongue out, arms outspread, Ashish Nehra was running around in Kingsmead, Durban, 16 years ago, like an out-of-control fighter plane. On six occasions that 2003 World Cup night, he took off, after taking a wicket, like a beast unleashed – his teammates couldn’t catch him, his opponents couldn’t stop him. England, of all teams, were being schooled by him in seam bowling.
The match had already witnessed some lip-smacking moments before The Nehra Show began.
“Even Sachin [Tendulkar] did not play well despite his century [against Namibia in the previous match]. Sachin’s just like another batsman in the Indian team, and there are a lot of others in the Indian side,” Andrew Caddick had suggested before the match.
The batsman he spoke of, responded, sending delivery of his – the third one of the eighth over – outside Kingsmead.
India, riding on Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid’s half-centuries had posted 250/9.
Then, Mohammad Kaif paid homage to Jonty Rhodes running Nick Knight out, airborne and all. This was Defining Moment #2 of the match.
When Nehra was introduced in the 13th over, England were two down for 28 – requiring 223 from 228 balls. When his 10-over spell ended, England were 107/8 – requiring 144 from 114 balls. In between, he caused mayhem.
The Kingsmead wicket and the Durban air aided swing. Nehra galloped, pitched right, found the edges, smiled, laughed and had, perhaps, the best night of his international cricket career.
Watch the spell:-