“All are discharged.” The three words by judge Neena Bansal Krishna at the Patiala House court on Saturday afternoon breathed a new lease of life into three Rajasthan Royals players, Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila. Sreesanth, standing in the last row of the packed courtroom, broke down as the verdict was pronounced. Chandila and Chavan, standing at opposite corners of the courtroom, didn’t show any emotion.
As some members of the public started clapping, the three former team mates, who were arrested in May, 2013 by the Delhi police, jailed and slapped with serious charges, walked out of the courtroom like strangers. Forget about talking among themselves, they didn’t as much as steal a glance at each other.
Deep in prayer
“My bowling shoes have been kept in my prayer room,” Sreesanth said. “Every day I used to see that pair and pray to god. My wish was that my name should be cleared before my daughter starts crawling. Look, my god has blessed me. Surely, my daughter has brought me luck,” the former India pacer, in a black half-sleeve shirt with the picture of lord Krishna printed on it and blue jeans, told HT.
It was on the night of May 16, 2013 that the Special Cell of the Delhi Police arrested Sreesanth, Chandila and Chavan for alleged spot-fixing in IPL matches. “Every moment in the last two years has been tough for me and my family. But by god’s grace, today is a great day for me. Hopefully, from tomorrow I will start practice. I hope I get to play for India once again. I will have to get fit first. I would love to play cricket, other things are secondary for me from now on,” Sreesanth said. However, two of his films are on the floor at the moment.
Chandila, 31, in a blue golf t-shirt, was a relieved man. The spinner held his head in his hands after the order.
Finding true friends
“It was a tough time. I am happy I have got over it. The court has declared me clean. No one should go through such a bad phase; it helps you discover your friends, and find who is with you. I have lost all of my so called friends after these allegations emerged. Only my family was behind me when I was in trouble,” said Chandila, who was suspended by his employers Air India.
“I have no grudge against anybody. I have got my life back, now I want to start my cricket soon. Actually, I have already started bowling at the Nahar Singh Stadium nets (in Faridabad),” said Chandila, who also played for Haryana. Amit Singh, a former Gujarat Ranji paceman who allegedly turned a bookie, was also in the courtroom, chatting with Chandila.
The well-dressed Chavan, 29, stayed calm throughout as the three players and several others, including bookies, waited in the courtroom for the order. Chavan’s brother, Nihaar, stood next to him.
“It was tough, but the court has declared me clean. I had done nothing, but I have gone through this phase. I want to leave this behind and play again,” said the former Mumbai spinner.
But with the BCCI clear that its ban will not be affected by the court verdict on the criminal case, their dream to play again may not fructify immediately.