Mumbai: Shanthakumaran Sreesanth is known as much for his antics as he is for his bowling. On Friday, on the third day of the Irani Cup match, the Kerala fast bowler turned in a heartening performance on comeback and assured later that his well-documented dancing skills will never come in the way of his primary calling - cricket.
"I've never missed a game because of my dancing. My focus is always on cricket. Everything else comes later."
Ton-up Sachin gets back to business
Although the 30-year-old claimed just one wicket in 21 overs against Mumbai, he hit the deck hard and tested a rampaging Sachin Tendulkar with a string of bouncers.
“It was my birthday a few days ago and it was my dream to take Sachin’s wicket that day. Obviously, when you play against him you need to do your homework. So I was bowling short to pin him on the backfoot, but the great batsman he is, he still managed to come to the front foot and hit me.”
Sreesanth last played a Test match over a year ago before being sidelined by a toe injury. The road to recovery was slow and painful and the bowler spent a lot of time recuperating and training at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.
“We (fast bowlers) give it our all. We don’t save anything for the next day. When you bowl on unhelpful wickets, you are bound to get injured. It’s all part of the game. But it’s good to see that more and more youngsters in India want to take up fast bowling.
“This was a big game for me after a long time. I’m slowly getting into a good rhythm. First I thought I’ll contain the runs. But then I started to attack with short balls. It was a good wicket for seamers,” he added.
Sreesanth had a word of praise for his seaming partner Ishwar Pandey – the highest wicket-taker this Ranji season.
“He has a good outswinger and we were helping each other out there. He is quite mature already and has taken a lot of wickets this season.”
With Rest of India having taken first innings lead, one would assume the match could only go one way from here. Sreesanth, however, sounded a note of warning.
“Mumbai still have a chance if they bowl us out cheaply in the second innings. But Manoj Tiwary must be itching to get a big score, and who knows maybe Vijay will get a century again.”
Mumbai’s Ajinkya Rahane, meanwhile, tried hard to mask the disappointment of missing out on a century. The dashing top-order batsman scored a silken 83 before an umpiring error sent him on his way.
“I am disappointed to miss a century in the Irani Cup. I got a bad decision, but these things happen in cricket. Obviously 80-odd is not the same as a century, but I’m not thinking about that. I had been getting out cheaply in the last few matches, so I wanted to focus on my batting and perform freely."
The 24-year-old, who replaced Virender Sehwag in ODIs recently, said it was all thanks to Tendulkar’s brilliance that Mumbai were still hanging in there.
“Tendulkar’s knock ensured that we’re still in the game. We all need to learn from him and bat more responsibly. But Rest of India bowlers did well too, especially Ishwar Pandey and Sreesanth. They bowled in the right areas. It was unfortunate that we lost quick wickets at the wrong time.”