The wait has been long but the return smooth; or that’s what Pradeep Sangwan wants to believe.
In 2013, the 22-year-old was found guilty of using Stanozolol, an anabolic steroid, while playing for Kolkata Knight Riders. After completing the 18-month ban, the 25-year-old produced a fine show for Delhi in Ranji Trophy by bagging 32 wickets in the season, including a seven-wicket haul against Odisha. The effort evoked interest from franchises.
He was picked by the newly-formed Gujarat Lions, and last week against Kings XI Punjab he returned to the tournament where his once-promising career lost its way.
Sangwan has several points to prove.
“I look back and players who were playing alongside like Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja have reached greater heights. I want to do well as they,” said Sangwan, who was the first Indian cricketer to be found guilty of doping.
“It is not about jealousy but motivation. I want to emulate them. I have lost a lot of time but I know if I work hard I can make an attempt to achieve what they have,” said the left-arm pacer.
Sangwan burst on to the scene as part of the victorious India under-19 side that won the World Cup in 2008 under Kohli. Sangwan produced eye-catching performances through the series.
A call-up to the Ranji side and Delhi Daredevils in the IPL came soon after. The young pacer showed promise, but the doping episode brought everything to a halt.
“It has been difficult staying away. Help from seniors gave me the will to fight. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir showed me the way. It was a mistake I made but they encouraged me to look past the doping episode and work on my game,” he said.
Sangwan had taken the drug to cut down on weight ahead of the 2013 IPL. The experiment did help shed pounds, but landed him in trouble.
“I have become careful about intake now. I don’t want to repeat the errors. The performance in Ranji was a confidence booster and I felt my performances warranted a look-in by an IPL side. The comeback so far has gone well, but a lot remains to be done and I am up for the challenge.”