Mohammad Azharuddin backs Sreesanth to make a comeback into Indian team

Sreesanth's last appearance for India came during the 2011 Oval Test

What's the story?

Former Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin has advised controversial fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth to keep working hard in order to make a comeback into the national team. Insisting that his pathway to the Indian side has not been completely sealed yet, the 54-year old urged the beleaguered pacer to maintain his confidence level.

Speaking to a Dubai-based radio station, Azharuddin quipped, "Sreesanth is one of the most talented Indian pace bowlers. The doors of the Indian team have not been shut on him. He should come clean and wait patiently. The key is not to lose confidence."

The context

In a career spanning from 2005, Sreesanth has represented India in 90 international matches across all three formats of the game and picked up a combined tally of 169 wickets. The right-armer's last appearance for his country came during the 2011 Oval Test against England.

The heart of the matter

After falling out of favour with the national selectors during the 2011/12 season, Sreesanth's playing career took a substantial blow upon being implicated in the 2013 spot-fixing scandal during his stint with Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League. Along with a couple of other players, he was handed a life ban by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Earlier this year, Sreesanth requested the BCCI to provide him with a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) in order to facilitate his stint with Glenrothes CC in Scotland's league circuit. After being denied, the 34-year old approached the Kerala High Court which subsequently instructed the Indian board to lift the life ban on him.

Also Read: Sreesanth expresses disappointment at Rahul Dravid and MS Dhoni for not supporting him

When the BCCI filed a counter-petition on the issue, a division bench of the Kerala High Court re-instated the life ban on Sreesanth. Following the ruling, the maverick pacer's future in the game continues to be mired deeply in uncertainty.

Parallels from history

This is not the first instance of Azharuddin coming to the support of Sreesanth. Even as the cumbersome legal battle was taking place between the Indian board and the fast bowler, the stylish Hyderabadi had implored BCCI to take a positive stand on the matter and pave the way for the seamer to find his way back into the national team.

Author's take

At 34, Sreesanth's chances of making a comeback into the Indian side appears to be all but over. With plenty of promising pace options slotting into the team's arsenal, it does not make sense for India to offer a national recall to the enigmatic bowler. Judging by recent events, the senior pacer's life ban is likely to carry on unabated.

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Edited by Ram Kumar