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On The Comeback Trail

'It is never easy to get back into the national team. And it is not just me. If someone like Saurav Ganguly can be left out after scoring runs (in domestic cricket) ... Everyone has been performing.'

K. Kumaraswamy INTERVIEWS | 17 November 2005
On The Comeback Trail
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Left arm seamer Ashish Nehra said coach Greg Chappell was right to give youngsters an opportunity to prove themselves but senior players who have been left out of the team should be given priority if they consistently prove their fitness and form.

Nehra said he did not see any ulterior motive on anyone's part in Baroda pacer Zaheer Khan or any other "senior player" being kept out of the Indian team.

"Chappell has come in and has tried out a few youngsters. It is not that he wants anything bad for Indian cricket," Nehra said.

"He wants good players to come in and be given an opportunity. Nobody is permanent in the team. Senior bowlers like Zaheer Khan, if they do well, should be picked. If not now, later", Nehra said.

"There is nothing personal with Zaheer. I don't think anyone has a problem with Zaheer. If he is fit and picks wickets, he will be back."

The left-arm speedster said he was targeting the Pakistan series early next year for his comeback into the Indian team after a 'niggle' that has put him out of action for the past two months.

Nehra, who returned home at the end of a tri-series in Zimbabwe and missed the two Tests against the African nation with a lower back injury, said he did not foresee himself playing in the Test series against Sri Lanka next month.

The Delhi pacer said he would be available for the state team from the third game for the Ranji Trophy which he would use to gain 100 per cent fitness and form to stake his claim for a place in the Indian squad.

"I am getting better. I haven't started to bowl yet, I would start doing that in 10 days' time from now. I would be playing the third match in the Ranji Trophy.

"I am looking forward to the Pakistan tour. I don't think I will be completely back to my best before that. I will be playing two or three matches during the Sri Lanka series," he said.

Nehra said he began training six weeks ago and has been running and sprinting but was "yet to touch the ball".

"For a fast bowler it is not advisible to play straight away in Tests. You need those 30-40 overs to get the rhythm. And on pitches like in Pakistan, you need to be 100 per cent fit," he said.

Nehra should know better. After undergoing an ankle surgery soon after the 2003 World Cup, he was eased directly into the one-day squad and went for 60-odd runs as he bowled his 10 overs on the trot in a tri-series match against Australia at Bangalore.

"Yes, I said after the match I should have played some domestic matches and I did play some."

Nehra, however, was aware that the scenario vis-a-vis the Indian team had changed drastically in the two months he had been away, and that it was not going to be easy for him to stake a claim for the Test or ODI team.

"It is never easy to get back into the national team. And it is not just me. If someone like Saurav Ganguly can be left out after scoring runs (in domestic cricket) ... Everyone has been performing, so it is going to be tough," he said.

PTI

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