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Return of the maverick

Four years ago, when S Sreesanth made the cut for the Indian World Cup squad, he was an aggressive, raw fast bowler. Abhijeet Kulkarni reports.

cricket Updated: Feb 09, 2011 00:58 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni

Four years ago, when S Sreesanth made the cut for the Indian World Cup squad, he was an aggressive, raw fast bowler. But when, as reported by HT, he was officially announced as replacement for the injured Praveen Kumar in the World Cup squad on Tuesday, the Kochi pacer showed he has matured.

"The first thing I did was to call up everyone in the family and inform them," he told Hindustan Times from Bangalore, where his fitness test was conducted on Monday before the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) wrote to the International Cricket Council (ICC) and got approval for the replacement.

"I was getting hints since yesterday. But today I was told officially. I am really excited," said Sreesanth. Sreesanth started the season on a disastrous note -- he injured himself on the first day of the Sri Lanka tour in July. But the paceman has returned with a bang and hoped to continue in the same vein, especially in front of the home crowd.

"The season has been good so far. I did reasonably well in South Africa," he said. "I am confident. I hope I can contribute to India winning the World Cup in front of our fans."

Having come into the squad as a replacement, it would be interesting to see if skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni includes Sreesanth in the playing XI, if the skipper decides to stick to his preferred policy of playing three pacemen.

Cautious BCCI
Even though the national selectors had zeroed in on Sreesanth as the replacement on Monday, the BCCI delayed the announcement till they got the nod from the ICC.

"Selecting an injured player was embarrassing enough, so the Board didn't want to take any chance by announcing it before getting the replacement ratified by the ICC," a BCCI insider said. Though the BCCI realised their mistake a tad late, it wasn't too late since the team's official preparations for the World Cup begin only on Wednesday, in Bangalore.

Since Sreesanth is anyway training at the National Cricket Academy, he would probably be the first to report for the camp, despite being included in the squad as the last member.

India start their campaign in Group B, against Bangladesh, in the tournament opener in Mirpur on February 19.