It was an emotional moment for the Indian cricket fans as veteran fast bowler Ashish Nehra bid adieu to the game after playing his last competitive match against New Zealand in the first T20I in front of his home crowd at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on Wednesday. And it turned out to be a perfect farewell for Nehra, who has given almost 19 years of his life to the game.
While the packed house at the iconic Kotla made sure that Nehra gets the loudest of cheers every time he makes an appearance on the giant screen, the Indian team too ensured a fairytale ending for the 38-year-old warhorse by registering their maiden victory over New Zealand in T20s.
Openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, who both scored 80, put on 158 runs for the opening wicket as the hosts swept to 202/3. India's bowling attack then limited the tourists to 149/8 in reply.
Nehra bowled the last over of the New Zealand innings to finish off his 18-year-long international career.
However, Nehra, who has always been a crowd favourite in his long career, did something which left even captain Kohli in splits.
While fielding, Nehra made a successful attempt with his foot to stop the ball, drawing applause from the crowd and Kohli, who is himself a football buff.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, who was inside the commentary box, said it was a lovely effort.
At the end of the match, Kohli and Dhawan carried Nehra on their shoulders and took a victory lap of the Kotla.
In the post-match presentation, Kohli said: "To have played 19 years is very hard for a fast bowler. I know how professional he's been and how hard he's worked. He deserved this kind of a farewell with the crowd cheering him. He can now spend time with his family, he's got a beautiful family. We'll stay in touch but we'll miss him and I wish him all the best."
Nehra made his debut in 1999 under captain Mohammad Azharuddin and will always be remembered for his magical spell of 6/23 against England in the 2003 World Cup.
Nehra was also a part of the victorious Indian team that lifted the World Cup trophy in 2011.