WC 2003 - British media praises Nehra for stupendous spell

Published: Friday, February 28, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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London: Ashish Nehra's splendid bowling performance in the crucial World Cup match against England came in for praise by the British media on Thursday but a sour note was sought to be introduced by a leading daily which churlishly suggested that the anti-doping unit should be alerted immediately."Ashish smokes out sorry England" was a typical headline in the morningers which also said that England choked again when it mattered the most. Like other papers, The Guardian praised the stupendous spell of fast bowling of Nehra but in a curious comment its correspondent said, "The anti-doping unit should be alerted immediately; a cricketer surely could face suspension for having traces of a performance-enhancing drug in his name."This comment will revive the perennial debate whether the Englishmen are whiners which was sparked off by the former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar who had termed the England team as "champion whingers" during their tour of India for persistently complaining about the facilities anditinerary."Pitter-pattering in, Akram-like, from Kingsmead's Umegeni End, Nehra found pace and, crucially, movement that for the most part had eluded England's bowlers before the daylight went and the pitch greened up in the evening air," The Guardian said.Yet another daily, The Times, compared 23-year Nehra to Pakistan speedster Wasim Akram at his most inspired. "Completely outplayed by India's fast bowlers in general and by Ashish Nehra in particular, albeit in conditions favouring the team bowling second, England are left with the colossal task of defeating Australia in Port Elizabeth on Sunday if they are to retain control over their own destiny inthe World Cup," the daily said."It looks very much as though for England the brief bubble of hope has burst. Not so for India, virtually certain of qualifying now by virtue of a scintillating start to the game by Sachin Tendulkar, a marvellously composed 62 by Rahul Dravid and a performance of fast left-arm-over bowling by Nehra reminiscent of Wasim Akram at his most inspired."Not only would it be too simplistic to say that this was a case of lose the toss, lose the match; that would be unfair to the quality of India's three fast bowlers. It was superb, Zaheer Khan and Javagal Srinath paving the way for the loose-limbed Nehra to sweep through the middle order." Nehra could easily have taken all eight of the wickets that remained once his spell started from the Umgeni End, so often did he hit the seam at speed around the off stump and zip the ball past the outside edge of both defensive and offensive bats. "Three of his victims were caught behind, two more caught in the slips. His second, Alec Stewart, was leg before first ball to a ball pitching on the stumps, bouncing high enough to be close."Nehra dismissed Michael Vaughan, caught behind, soon after to bring Andrew Flintoff to the middle, there to bat almost as well as he had bowled," the report said. PTI

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