If one has to recall the most aggressive Indian bowler in the 21St century, the first name that comes to mind is Sreesanth. His aggression was his trademark. His run-up, action and his delivery stride displayed the confidence and aggression he had. He never feared to display his emotions in front of the greatest of the batters. This is why, seeing an aggressive bowler like him announcing his decision of retirement silently did surprise the cricket lovers, even when they knew this was about to come sooner or later.
With a heavy heart, he called off his career in the field which gave him everything and took away everything from him. The retirement of every cricketer is not a great sight for the fans of the gentlemen's game, but Sreesanth's retirement did make the fans emotional too in some way or the other. Every fan has memories related to a cricketer, and similar is the case with Sreesanth. With his retirement, the memories associated with him flashback quickly and make one person wonder, why did such a talented player could play only half of the years after he made his debut till his retirement ...?
The only bowler from Kerala after Tinu Yohanan, Sreesanth made his name in the domestic circuit by claiming a hat-trick against Himachal Pradesh in 2002. When he made his international debut in 2005, he made sure his name is known to the world. He claimed 2 wickets on his ODI debut, and 4 wickets on his Test debut. He bowled great outswingers, and his ability to reverse the ball in the late overs proved to be of some help to India at times. This made him a great option in the longer format of the game, as well as in Odi.
His ability to swing the new ball proved to be of great help in initial overs in T20 too. He made his T20 debut in the only T20 India played before the 2007 T20 world cup. In the inaugural edition of the T20 world cup, Sreesanth proved to be a vital cog in India's emergence as the first title winner. He dismissed the in-form Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden in semi-final, which turned the game in India's favour and ended Australia's domination in ICC events. And who can forget the last catch taken by Sreesanth which sealed the World Cup final against arch-rivals Pakistan, making India enter in history books?
But more than his final catch, his aggressive celebration on the pitch after taking Hayden's wicket was loved by many, was also hated by many, but it demonstrated the immense confidence he had. In the 2011 World cup too, Sreesanth had a major role to play in India's world cup victory after 28 years. Interestingly, he is the only Indian fast bowler, who was a part of both, 2007 T20 world cup victory, as well as 2011 World cup victory.
His career was glorious but equally controversial. Earlier he was indulged in a few controversies too, but he got away with it. But when everything was going well, he did one big mistake. The mistake was unforgivable. And rightly so, he did get punished for it. But he could never quite come out of it thereafter. A ban of 7 years destroyed him in the worst possible way. He didn't just lose his reputation, he also lost the skills that he possessed. Life was not fair for him after 2013. When people who were involved in spot fixing or ball-tampering were given a chance again, Sreesanth never really got a chance again.
Otherwise, it would have been a treat to watch him bowling with great aggression earlier. Just thinking of having an aggressive bowler like Sreesanth in the playing eleven with Virat Kohli as a captain would've been a sight everyone would've loved to witness. This aggressive duo would've mentally destroyed the opposition. Once when Steyn was asked the most frightening incident he had, he replied saying "Sreesanth dancing with the bat after hitting Andre Nel for a six still gives me chills down the spine". If the bowler like Steyn finds it frightening, imagine what others might have thought if the team up ok Kohli and Sreesanth might have had been a reality. But the latter's mistake, and fate had different plans for him
Not all endings are happy. This is one such end that is happy in no possible way for anyone. But speaking of what he has achieved, one would always say that in the 7 years of international cricket he played for India, he gave enough opportunities for billions of people to rejoice. And for all the reasons he made India smile, Indians will always be thankful. His catch in the 2007 T20 world cup, and Ravi Shastri's commentary "It's in the air, Sreesanth under the ball, takes it" will always be in the hearts of cricket fans till they continue to breathe. Sreesanth can be proud of what he has achieved in his life. And now when he decides to start his second innings, we, the team stayfeatured wish him all the luck and love he deserves.
Authored By:- Ashwin Jangam ( Cricket Analyst, Host and Entertainer)
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