Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: All eyes on comeback man Sreesanth

Sreesanth, first Kerala cricketer to have played a World Cup, was the main draw as his team trained in Mumbai on Friday ahead of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

Sreesanth during a training session in Mumbai on Friday.   -  Vivek Bendre

As the domestic cricket season, which was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, gets underway, the Sharad Pawar Cricket Academy - Mumbai Cricket Association’s facility in Mumbai - was bustling with activity on Friday, with three of the six teams stationed in Mumbai training after one another.

Despite Suryakumar Yadav’s star-studded Mumbai outfit practising at the facility in the afternoon, it was the Kerala team, which hogged the limelight. And S. Sreesanth, first Kerala cricketer to have played a World Cup, who is now part of the squad, was the main draw.

Making a return to top-flight cricket with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy after serving a ban for his alleged involvement in the 2013 IPL corruption scandal, Sreesanth realised he would be in the limelight not just on Friday but at least for the next couple of weeks.

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After being arrested in May 2013, Sreesanth was handed a life-ban by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, but last year, it was reduced to a seven years’ suspension. As a result, Sreesanth has been picked in Kerala’s squad for the domestic T20 tournament.

Having been out of the competitive cricket circuit for such a long time, it wasn’t a surprise that Sreesanth, who once used to be the fittest of the cricketers, couldn’t hide his enlarged waistline during Kerala’s training.

It's still unclear whether the 37-year-old will make it to the playing eleven when Kerala opens its campaign against Puducherry in a floodlit game at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday. But it’s indeed ironical that the pacer is preparing for a comeback in the city from where he was arrested by Delhi Police in May 2013.

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Soon after Rajasthan Royals’ tie against Mumbai Indians - a game that Sreesanth didn’t feature in - the Delhi Police picked up Sreesanth along with two of his Royals’ teammates and later arrested them for allegedly spot-fixing games during the IPL. It has been almost eight years since.

Come Monday, and the speedster will be hoping to start afresh.

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