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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila acquitted by Court !!!

Kapil Dev running backwards to take a great catch getting rid of Viv Richards off the bowling of Madanlal on 25th June 1983 – and this scoop on 24th Sept 2007 remain etched in memories of Indian Cricket lover. 

We have now seen that ‘ who will bowl that last over ’ – umpteen times – having been at the helm for only 22 days Mahendra Singh Dhoni took that crucial decision to go ahead with Joginder Sharma in T 20 no. 46 at New Wanderers.  A finals and the first twist came before toss - Virender Sehwag's name was missing due to a  groin strain – and his replacement  was not Dinesh Karthik -  but Yusuf Pathan,  whom many did not know – and he opened, launched Mohammad Asif for a six and got out !  It was a cracker – 13 off last over.  Misbah on strike – Joginder the bowler, who bowled a poor wide – big one at that ! – then came a dot ball; 19.2 full toss, hit straight back for a six reducing the target to a simple 6 off 4.   Then came that fatal scoop that Misbah would rue for rest of life – moved in, tried hitting over fine leg, ball went up in air and came down into the waiting hands of Santhakumaran Sreesanth, who too became part of history. 

Sreesanth is back in news - charges against Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, who had been chargesheeted by the Delhi Police for the IPL 2013 corruption scandal, were dropped by a trial court in Delhi on Saturday. The court's decision, however, did not have an impact on the life bans imposed by the BCCI on Sreesanth and Chavan. The three were among 42 individuals acquitted by the court on grounds of lack of sufficient evidence for prosecution under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).  The three cricketers were arrested in May-June 2013 for their alleged involvement in betting and spot-fixing during the IPL. While Sreesanth and Chavan were granted bail within a month, Chandila had to spend more than three months in prison before he was released on bail. The BCCI banned Sreesanth and Chavan in September 2013, while Chandila's case is pending before the board's disciplinary committee.

Over these years, life certainly was tough for Sreesanth – the news about him were more of him shaking leg in parties and acting in movies ! and some Quiz Qs like – who took that all important catch in T20 finals in 2007 or who is the only Kerala bowelr to have taken a hat-trick in Ranji.  Sreesanth had seen some Ups and many downs primarily due to his injuries and attitude !  portrayed as one with aggressive approach, a wicket taking bowler once had Sarwan and Brian Lara [for duck] in successive overs.   He is also being remembered for that ‘ slapgate ’ – Harbhajan Singh slapping him in an IPL match.  The biggest shock in his volatile career came when he was among three Rajasthan Royals players arrested in May 2013, along with Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, for the alleged fulfilling of promises made to bookmakers in the IPL. In September, the BCCI's disciplinary committee found him guilty of spot-fixing and banned him for life.

Remember that he featured in the famous 100th Test win for India – coming as it did against Sri Lanka in Test no. 1935 at Kanpur in Nov. 2009.  India made 642 (Gambhir 167, Dravid 144, Sehwag 131, Herath 5-121) beat Sri Lanka 229 (Sreesanth 5-75) and 269 (Samaraweera 78*) by an innings and 144 runs .  Sreesanth bowled with fire !

In 7th ODI against visiting England at Indore in Apr 2006,  England made 288 – bowling was in the hands of Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth, Rudrapratap Singh, VRV Singh, Romesh Powar, and Yuvraj.  Sreesanth had figures of 10-1-55-6 helping India to win by 7 wickets.  Uthappa made 86; Dravid, Yuvraj, Raina all made 50s. Civil consequences will continue to affect cricketers.

While IPL showered money on many, for some like Sreesanth it spelled doom – now after 3 years in oblivion, he has been acquitted [for want of evidence] and not sure what exactly this means – but his career was affected badly for sure.  BCCI sources are quoted as saying that the trial court's decision would have little impact on the 'civil consequences' faced by the cricketers. "They were charged under a law that was meant to deal with organised crime in Maharashtra and the charges have been cleared because the prosecution was unable to produce before the court sufficient evidence to prove their charges," "In criminal law, the kind of evidence the prosecution needs to bring to court is a kind of evidence that shows beyond reasonable doubt that these individuals had committed the offences under the MCOCA. Obviously the Delhi Police was unable to do it in this case and therefore the court has cleared them of all these charges. This does not mean that the other civil consequences that Sreesanth and the other cricketers would face follow. Those would continue to apply.

With the absence of a specific criminal law to deal with spot-fixing in India, the cricketers were chargesheeted for offences under the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the MCOCA. The court, however, said there was not enough evidence for charges to be framed under the MCOCA, a special law passed by the Maharashtra state government to tackle organised crime syndicates and terrorism which contains far stricter provisions relating to bail and admissibility of confessions compared to the Indian Penal Code. In its reaction to the court's decision, the BCCI said its disciplinary action would remain unaltered. "Any disciplinary proceeding or decision taken by the BCCI is independent to any criminal proceeding and has no bearing. The decisions of the BCCI, based on its independent disciplinary action, shall remain unaltered," the board said in a press release.

The three cricketers, were, however, hopeful of returning to the game. Sreesanth said he wanted to start training as soon as possible to get back into the selection process. "I'm very, very happy. I want to thank God," he said. "I will try to start training properly as soon as possible, I wasn't allowed anything. Hopefully I can get permission from BCCI to use their facilities so that I can get fit and come into the selection process."

For less informed, Ankeet Chavan has been growing as a reliable  left-arm orthodox spinner and a useful batsman lower down the order.  Against Punjab, he once had a 9 for 23 haul.  Ajit Chandila is a Haryana offspinner who struggled to make his state side but hit the headlines with a hat-trick in the 2012 IPL.  In an IPL match, he dismissed Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting in succession.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26th July 2015.

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