IPL 2022: Ashish Nehra, the mind behind Gujarat Titans’ success, scripts history and breaks stereotypes
The ‘millennials’ might have not faith in his coaching, but the veterans of cricketing community always had the belief in Ashish Nehra’s game reading ability and tactical acumen and the former India fast bowler just proved it by playing a crucial role in Gujarat Titans’ IPL 2022 title win.
The Hardik-Pandya led Gujarat Titans (GT) got their hands on the coveted Indian Premier League (IPL) trophy in their very first season after they beat Rajasthan Royals (RR) by seven wickets in the final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
If Hardik was Gujarat’s hero on the field, off the field it was the support staff led by Nehra that played a vital role in GT winning the IPL title.
With the victory, Nehra etched his name on the history books of the cash-rich league. The former left-arm pacer became the first Indian head coach to win the IPL. Notably, in all the previous 14 editions of the IPL, the title-winning side had a foreign head coach but Nehra broke the pattern with GT this year.
The 43-year-old Nehra also became only the third cricketer to have won the IPL both as a head coach and as a player after Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne. Nehra played for Sunrisers Hyderabad when they won IPL in 2016 under David Warner’s captaincy. Ponting was a part of the Mumbai Indians squad when they won their maiden IPL title in 2013 and he was MI’s head coach when they won their second title in 2015. The legendary Shane Warne was both the coach and captain of the Rajasthan Royals when they won the inaugural edition in 2008.
Entering a highly-competitive league like the IPL as a new team and clinching the title in the very first season is a dream stuffy but it wasn’t easy. Watching the final Gujarat squad after the mega auction, most cricket pundits, analysts and even the fans didn’t give Gujarat much of a chance to finish in the top-four. Most experts felt that Gujarat, while assembling a good group, were a bit thin in their batting.
There were also apprehensions about Pandya’s bowling fitness as well as his captaincy skills, given that he had led only once in senior cricket previously. And remember, Nehra worked as the bowling coach of Royal Challengers Bangalore along with Gary Kirsten, who served as their head coach but both were sacked after the 2019 season.
Nehra even had become a ‘meme’ content for many social media users, who perhaps didn’t see him play and deliver for India at crucial junctures’ and just saw him as a cricket analyst.
But, the deadly captain and head coach duo of Hardik and Nehra along with Vikram Solan (Director of Cricket), Gary Kirsten (Batting coach and mentor) and other support staff of GT cracked the winning formula, put an end to all the doubts and won the trophy with sheer domination. In the whole tournament, Gujarat lost just four matches, out of the 16 games which they played, which shows their domination and class.
“It’s a great feeling. More than winning the trophy, the most important thing was the way we played and it was very heartening to see. Under your leadership, the boys gelled very well,” Nehra told skipper Pandya in a fun interview after winning the trophy.
Meanwhile, mentor Gary Kirsten said he enjoyed working with Nehra, rating him as one of the finest tacticians going around.
“I’ve loved working with Ashish, he’s really strong tactically – trying to put a game plan together on the fly is not easy. There are so many variables in each game, but what I’ve enjoyed has been the responsibility players have taken to win games for us,” Kirsten said.
Nehra’s success as the coach also broke many stereotypes, which were there in the IPL for a long long time.
In the history of IPL, it has been observed that franchises are obsessed with having a foreign head coach and they don’t trust the ability of an Indian guy in the main. There were only three Indians — Sanjay Bangar (RCB), Anil Kumble (PBKS) and Ashish Nehra (GT) — who served as the head coach of their respective franchises in IPL 2022. However, with the former Indian fast bowler getting success as a head coach with GT, the number could go up in the upcoming seasons.
Also, throughout the tournament, Nehra looked relaxed and was often spotted without a laptop or technology, reminding everyone that keeping things simple could also win team matches without “over-analysing” things.
In the modern cricketing era, coaches and captains have often been seen relying too much on data analytics, match-ups, especially in T20 cricket. There is no denying that technology helps in enhancing a few facets of the game, but too much reliance on the data can also complicate things. The basic cricketing instincts and reading the game situation well at the crucial junctures of the game still rule the cricket.
Overall, Nehra can become a role model for many coaches in terms of keeping things simple, believing in their abilities, taking tactical decisions and building a good environment in the dressing room.
‘I’m happy here’: Cristiano Ronaldo pledges to continue at Al Nassr in Saudi Pro League
Portugese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has vowed to continue at Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia despite walking away empty handed in this season. The 38-year-old has earmarked the tournament to be among the top five in the world.
Ronaldo, who signed a two and a half year contract with Al Nassr, scored 14 goals in 16 games in the season, with his side standing second behind Al Ittihad in the Saudi Pro league. However, there were speculations about how long will he stay as reports of swap deal with Saudi-owned Newcastle United emerged, who have now qualified for next season’s Champions league.
In an official Saudi Pro League interview, the star footballer revealed:
“I’m happy here, I want to continue here, I will continue here. And in my opinion, if they continue to do the work that they want to do here, for the next five years, I think the Saudi league can be a top five league in the world. I expected to win something this year, but we didn’t, but next year I’m really positive, but next year I’m really positive and confident that things will change and we go in a better way.”
Cristiano Ronaldo suggests he is still adjusting to strange training timings in Saudi Arabia:
Ronaldo also revealed how contrasting the training timings in Europe and Saudi Arabia are, elaborating:
“In Europe, we train more in the morning, but here we train in the afternoon or evening and in Ramadan, we train at 10 at night. So this is strange but as I tell you, these situations are part of an experience, memories. I like to live these moments because you learn with these things.”
With 837 goals in 512 games, Ronaldo is the combined highest goal scorer in history.
Lionel Messi to leave PSG at the end of the season, confirms club manager Christophe Galtier
Paris Saint Germain superstar Lionel Messi will leave the club at the end of the current season, manager Christophe Galtier confirmed on Thursday. Messi made 74 appearances for PSG in which he scored 32 goals and made 35 assists. In Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain has played 37 matches out of which they have won 27, lost six and drew four.
PSG had acquired Messi’s services two years ago in a record transfer deal after he left FC Barcelona in 2021.
Messi, who’s contract with PSG ends this season, is now being linked with with a move to Saudi Arabia while talk of a return to the Nou Camp has picked up in Spain in recent weeks.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner will play his final match for PSG against Clermont Foot on Saturday.
“I had the privilege of coaching the best player in the history of football,” Galtier said on Thursday. “This will be his last match at the Parc des Princes, and I hope that he will receive the warmest of welcomes.”
Messi’s envious record
In the Spanish La Liga football competition, Lionel Messi has scored 474 goals in 520 matches. In the French Ligue 1, Messi has scored 22 goals in 57 matches.
The 35-year-old while playing for Football Club Barcelona has scored 672 goals in 778 games. While playing for Paris Saint-Germain he has scored 32 goals in 74 matches.
No plan to bring Messi back: Barca president
FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta recently said that the club has re-established good relationships with Argentine legend Lionel Messi, but it would not pay any price to bring him back to the Camp Nou Stadium.
“I have spoken with Leo to somehow redirect the situation that occurred when I had to put the institution ahead of everything, including him, the best player in the world,” said Laporta in a Monday morning TV show.
Protesting wrestlers to discard their medals in Ganga river today at 6pm, sit on hunger strike at India Gate
The protesting wrestlers demanding the arrest of Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Singh over sexual allegations have threatened to discard their coveted medals in Ganga river in Haridwar on Tuesday at 6 pm. Their announcement came as the Delhi Police cleared all the signs of the wrestlers’ month-long protest.
The likes of Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Poghat, and Satyawart Kadian have been protesting for over a month, asking for Brij Bhushan Singh’s arrest over sexual allegations of female athletes, including a minor. On May 28th, all the wrestlers suffered ill treatment from the police officials as they were dragged relentlessly, prompting an outrage among social media users over the behaviour towards the athletes.
On the same day, the police officials entered the wrestlers’ tents at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to destroy them. Sakshi Malik, an Olympic Bronze medalist and one of the protestors condemned it by posting a clip on Twitter. She wrote on Twitter, stating ‘After arresting all the wrestlers and old people, the cops have started to destroy our march. Our things have been started lifting. What kind of hooliganism is this?’
Hence, Malik, on Tuesday, issued a lengthy statement on Twitter in Hindi, announcing to dispose of their medals in Ganga river. ‘These medals are our lives, our souls. There would be no reason to live after throwing them in the Ganga today. So, we will stage a hunger strike until death at India Gate after that.’
While Malik has an Olympic bronze medal won in 2016, wrestler Vinesh Poghat has two commonwealth golds, one Asian Games gold medal. She was also crowned Asian Champion in 2021 and won the World Championships Bronze in 2021. Meanwhile, Bajrang Punia won a bronze in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. He also went on to win bronze in 2013, silver in 2018, and bronze in 2019.
Police officials blocked the wrestlers’ march towards the parliament on Sunday:
On the day of the new Parliament building’s opening, the protest produced devastating images as Delhi Police cracked down on them in the middle of their march.
Hundreds of police officers and paramilitary people obstructed the wrestlers’ protest march as they attempted to progress towards the new Parliament House. A violent altercation between wrestlers and police officers occurred as the demonstrators attempted to break through the security perimeter.
Leading members of the opposition, such as Rahul Gandhi of the Congress, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi, and Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal, have criticised the central government for staying mum over Brij Bhushan Singh.
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