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After Zaheer Khan's appointment as Delhi Daredevils' captain, it's now Ashish Nehra's turn to lead his IPL team.

by Gaurav Sethi

On the back of Zaheer Khan's appointment as Delhi Daredevils' captain, it has now been revealed that another IPL franchise is looking to a senior Indian medium pacer for leadership. Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) who purchased Ashish Nehra at the IPL auctions this year, have decided to make him their captain.

Ashish Nehra made a surprise return to the India squad for the Australia and Sri Lanka T20 series, and was subsequently picked for the Asia Cup and World T20. Before this, Nehra last played for India in the 2011 World Cup semi finals against Pakistan. He opened the bowling with Zaheer Khan in that match. Before his latest comeback, Nehra's last T20 for India was more than five years ago. Since his return in January this year, Nehra has already played 14 matches for India. (also the maximum matches one can play in the IPL group stages).  

SRH coach, Tom Moody, commented on Nehra's appointment, “We have been following his progress closely. He has been unbelievably consistent. In three out of the four matches in the World T20 he has very similar bowling figures – twice he has bowled his four overs for 20 runs and once his three overs for twenty runs. It's as if he was born to play Twenty20 cricket and go for just 20 runs”. A closer examination of Nehra's figures show that he has gone for less than 30 runs in nine out of his previous 14 matches.

Ashish Nehra has his own ideas when it comes to captaincy. Not a big fan of technology or social media, Nehra has gone on record to say, “I think smart phones are making people less smart. As I have said before, I still use my old Nokia phone. In our team dugout, I will expect the players to uninstall facebook, twitter and whatsapp. This way they will apply themselves on the games and not on the apps...I have just learnt that's what they call them”

In the current World T20, Nehra has been extremely vocal with his opinion, as was evident when he was seen speaking to MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya before the decisive 20th over against Bangladesh. Whether or not his advice was heeded is still unknown but that has never stopped Nehra from giving his two cents. Turning 37 next month, the old workhorse might well be in the twilight of his career, but it's obvious he still has a few tricks up his short sleeves.

Zaheer Khan last played for India over two years ago. Previously, in IPL 7, he only played half of his franchise's 14 matches. Now in his 38th year, the old fox has been made Delhi Daredevils' captain, with the backing of former teammate, and DD mentor, Rahul Dravid.

For years, Zaheer was team India's bowling captain, setting fields for various captains and chatting with bowlers from his fielding position at mid off. Reacting to his appointment as captain, Zaheer believes that nothing will change - “I'll still be fielding at mid off and talking to the bowlers”.

In addition to Dravid, Zaheer will renew his association with India's former mental conditioning coach, Paddy Upton. Welcoming Upton’s appointment as DD’s head coach, Zaheer was honest in his assessment, “Some of the decisions DD have taken in the past...they have chopped and changed way too often...they have also exposed a mental fragility. Someone like Paddy (Upton) will help them overcome...”

Most experts are sceptical but cricketer turned commentator, Virender Sehwag, was bullish as usual: “Go Nehraji old is gold” and “ZAKS old is gold 2”. Shoaib Akhtar disagreed, “I have to producers have told me too”. Sehwag had the last word, “Of are not...agreeable guy”  

Thanks to my friend, Bhaskar Khaund, for inspiring this post.

(However plausible this may sound, this is largely a work of fiction.)

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