The news of Pune Warriors India’s Rahul Sharma (25) testing positive for recreational drugs after being caught at a rave party at a Juhu hotel on May 20 has come as a shock to the team’s assistant coach Pravin Amre. Mumbai police on Friday named leg-spinner Sharma and South African medium-pacer Wayne Parnell (22) among 44 people who had attended the rave party at Oakwood Premier Hotel and whose blood sample had tested positive. All those who have tested positive could reportedly face arrest.
Amre however, having watched Sharma from close quarters during his coaching assignment with the Pune side in the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League, is of the opinion that the player is innocent. “It is quite shocking that Rahul has tested positive. The boy has a very simple lifestyle. It is hard to believe that he has done drugs. I have not even seen him consuming alcohol,” Amre told SUNDAY MiD DAY.
The former India batsman said Sharma was a rather coy boy at social gatherings. “He would come for parties, but never drink. He never had any disciplinary issues both on and off the field. I believe he is a vegetarian as well. So, it is hard for me to believe that he has tested positive (for drugs). I believe he is innocent,” said the former Mumbai Ranji trophy-winning coach.
Sharma shot into limelight with impressive performances for Pune Warriors India in IPL-IV. He dismissed batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar in Pune’s match against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium and finished with figures of 2-7in the return fixture at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. The Jalandhar lad also ended up as the most economical bowler (5.46) in the IPL-IV and finished as the highest wicket-taker for Pune (16 wickets in 14 matches).
The performances landed him a spot in the Indian ODI squad for the home series against England in October 2011. In IPL-V, he claimed nine wickets in 11 matches. Amre however, felt the incident will hamper the young leggie’s career. “It will definitely be a setback for him. It remains to be seen whether he will be sent back home (from Sri Lanka, where he is touring with the Indian team scheduled to play five ODIs and a one-off T20 international). I don’t know how the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) will treat this matter, but before that, Rahul will have to go through the Mumbai Police’s procedures and that is quite a tough task,” he signed off. Meanwhile, Sharma was not picked in the playing XI for India’s first ODI against Sri Lanka on Saturday.
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