Australia fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile feared that he would not return to international cricket after being ruled out of the last home summer due to a back injury. Coulter-Nile has struggled with injuries over the past two years. In September 2015, a recurring hamstring injury forced him out of the ODI series in England. He was later in the frame to make a Test debut in the home series against West Indies in the same year but dislocated his shoulder while playing for the Perth Scorchers during the Big Bash League. A lower back issue then forced him out of the Sri Lanka tour in 2016 and put him on a lengthy rehabilitation period.
Coulter-Nile returned to action in the IPL earlier this year and claimed 15 wickets in eight matches for Kolkata Knight Riders but his international future remained uncertain after he was cut from the national contracts list. Injuries to Mitchell Starc and then Josh Hazlewood meant Coulter-Nile was back in Australia's limited-overs side for the India tour. He took the new ball in the first ODI in Chennai and claimed three wickets in an incisive opening burst.
"There were definitely periods where I wondered if I was ever going to play for Australia again," Coulter-Nile told cricket.com.au after taking 3 for 44 in the series opener. "I was always confident I could play for WA (Western Australia) and get through a domestic season. That's a lot easier than the rigours and travel of playing for Australia. But it's yet to be seen if I can get through an Aussie tour yet.
"I thought long and hard about [giving up first-class cricket] and I ended up trying to give it another crack. After talking to JL (Justin Langer) and a few blokes, I think it'd just be mad to give up the dream at 29."
Coulter-Nile, who was playing his first ODI since the tri-series final in the Caribbean in June 2016, hit hard lengths with the new ball and pushed India's top-order batsmen back. He then made the incisions with full balls outside off.
Coulter-Nile had contemplated giving up the longest format and turning into a T20 gun for hire last month, but he now says that playing for Australia is still the "dream".
"I think it's the dream of every kid playing in Australia," he said. "It's not about earning money in the IPL, it's about playing Test cricket and representing your country on the big stage."
Coulter-Nile is into his fifth year in international cricket, having played 17 ODIs and as many T20Is, but is yet to make his Test debut. He was in line for a Boxing Day debut in 2015, but a dislocated shoulder - sustained during the BBL - sidelined him.
With Starc, Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson being the first-choice quicks, where does Coulter-Nile see himself in the pecking order?
"I'm up near with them, but I'm not up with them," he said. "But it's the nature of cricket that those blokes aren't fit all the time ... which is why I've got the chance here. I've just got to be fit at the right time to get a break, I guess. My goals this year are to purely play well for WA. I'm confident I can get through for WA and just get my body into some sort of shape to play for Australia consistently."