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Ashish Nehra regrets turning down MS Dhoni's offer to make Test comeback

India Today logo India Today 18-04-2016

Left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra revealed that MS Dhoni and former India coach Gary Kirsten had asked him to make a Test comeback in 2009 but the soon-to-be 37-year-old did not respond to the feelers.

Nehra had made his Test debut under Mohammad Azharuddin in 1999 and was never selected for the longest format after playing the last of his 17th match in 2004. The Delhi pro has been in sensational form this year, playing a crucial role for India in the Twenty20 format.

Making his way back into the Indian team after five years, Nehra consistently made early breakthroughs and was named in the ICC's "Team of the Tournament" in the recently-concluded World Twenty20.

"Right from my debut under Mohammed Azharuddin (in 1999), I have played under so many captains but when it comes to remaining cool and delivering under pressure, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the best. I have not seen anyone who can remain so cool under pressure," Nehra answered to a query from PTI during a special show organised by the 'ABP News'.

Nehra's biggest regret is that he could not play more than 17 Tests.

"In 2009, Dhoni and the then coach Gary Kirsten had asked me if I would like to make a Test comeback. I was around 30-31 then and should have responded positively but I was not very sure. When I look back, only two years back, at the age of 35, I had played six four-day matches in six weeks. So when I look back, I feel I should have played more than 17 Test matches," the senior pacer said.

Questioned on comparison between Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly, under whom Nehra had played some of his best cricket, the left-arm seamer said: "When we played under Sourav, guys like myself, Yuvraj, Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan were all very young. For us Sourav's wish was our command as he had much more experience than all of us. If Dada said that something needs to be executed, we knew it had to be done.

"When I made a comeback under Dhoni in 2009, I was more matured and I knew more about my bowling and also could understand and relate to Dhoni's philosophy of captaincy. So it has also been an enjoyable experience under Dhoni."

Asked if 'Captain Cool' of late is becoming edgy to criticism, Nehra backed his skipper.

Dhoni had lost his cool to a query from a scribe after his team won by a run against Bangladesh, while he took a sarcastic dig at Indian media while inviting an Aussie journalist to sit beside him after India's semi-final loss against West Indies at the World T20.

"How many times have you seen Dhoni lose his cool. It's also about how you ask a particular question. On personal front, what is being written in papers has never bothered me as I don't read them or watch news on television. I don't even watch cricket on television. I rarely give interviews or press statements," he said.

Nehra did not give any direct answer to the query about why he was out in the cold post 2011 World Cup win but reminded that injury and fitness are two entirely different concepts that the people normally mix up.

"I sustained four fractures in my hand while fielding during the semi-final match against Pakistan. But one needs to understand that being injured does not mean you are unfit.

Injury is getting hit, sustaining fractures but fitness is a different aspect.

"In these four years, I may not have played international cricket but I was playing domestic cricket during that phase," said Nehra.

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