Sreesanth be­lieves in World Cup mir­a­cle af­ter life ban lifted

New Straits Times - - Sport -

NEW DELHI: In­dian pace bowler Shan­thaku­maran Sreesanth said yes­ter­day he was dream­ing of play­ing in the 2019 World Cup af­ter a court lifted a life ban im­posed over a match-fix­ing scan­dal.

The 34-year-old knows he faces a tough bat­tle af­ter four years in the wilder­ness, but he said he was in­spired by the suc­cess­ful come­back of Pak­istan’s Mo­ham­mad Amir from a fix­ing ban.

The Ker­ala state high court lifted Sreesanth’s ban on Mon­day, say­ing the Board of Con­trol for Cricket in In­dia (BCCI) had not proved his role in the 2013 In­dian Pre­mier League scan­dal.

Sreesanth said his first tar­get would be to play games for Glen­rothes in the Scot­tish league, and then Ker­ala state, as he bids to fight back into the In­dian team.

“My dream is to play 2019 World Cup for In­dia,” Sreesanth told The Times of In­dia in an in­ter­view.

“But I know it is next to im­pos­si­ble and it would be a mir­a­cle if I play in that World Cup. But I have al­ways be­lieved that mir­a­cles can hap­pen.

“There might be stiff com­pe­ti­tion for fast bowlers’ spots now. But there was com­pe­ti­tion even when I made my way into the In­dian team.

“I have al­ways felt that com­pe­ti­tion gets the best out of me. I just hope that I can do jus­tice to my tal­ent on my come­back.”

The BCCI has not made any com­ment on the rul­ing. It could ap­peal to a na­tional court, or ac­cept the ver­dict and let Sreesanth re­turn.

The 2013 IPL sea­son was mired in con­tro­versy af­ter po­lice launched le­gal pro­ceed­ings against sev­eral of­fi­cials and three Ra­jasthan Roy­als play­ers, in­clud­ing Sreesanth, for il­le­gal bet­ting and spot-fix­ing.

All three were cleared of spot­fix­ing charges by a New Delhi court in 2015, but Sreesanth’s life ban by the BCCI re­mained in place un­til Mon­day’s rul­ing.

Sreesanth, who was 13 short of 100 Test wick­ets when he was banned, said he was op­ti­mistic of be­ing given of­fi­cial ap­proval to play.

He high­lighted the case of Pak­istani bowler Amir, who was found guilty of match-fix­ing in court and banned for five years in 2011.

Amir made an early re­turn in 2015 and helped Pak­istan beat In­dia in the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy fi­nal in June.

“I just hope that hap­pens in my ca­reer too,” said Sreesanth.

While Sreesanth had de­nied any role in the IPL match-fix­ing, the Ker­ala court said he had been a vic­tim of his own si­lence in not de­fend­ing him­self at the time.

“Com­pla­cency in the mat­ter on the part of Sreesanth is re­ally con­demnable,” said the judge in his rul­ing.

“To up­hold the dig­nity of the game, he should have pub­licly dis­ap­proved (of) the con­duct of Jiju Ja­nar­danan, es­pe­cially when his name was dragged into the con­tro­versy.”

Ja­nar­danan was a friend of Sreesanth who was ac­cused of act­ing as a link be­tween the play­ers and il­le­gal bookies.

“Any­how, hav­ing suf­fered a ban now al­most for four years, noth­ing fur­ther is re­quired in this mat­ter,” the court con­cluded. AFP

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