After arrest at 2012 rave party, spinner Rahul Sharma eyes World Cup return

Updated: Dec 15, 2017, 14:30 IST | Harit N Joshi | Mohali

Rahul Sharma, who fell off the radar following an arrest during a rave ­party in 2012, is aiming to make the India squad for 2019 World Cup

Jalandhar to Chandigarh is just 150kms. Rahul Sharma, 31, is tempted to catch up with his India teammates and his former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He also wishes to come to the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra stadium here to cheer the Men in Blue for the second ODI against Sri Lanka. But the out-of-favour leg-spinner decides to stay put in his house. He makes up his mind to watch the action from his living room instead.

Rahul Sharma got his India break after fruitful stints in the Indian Premier League with Deccan Charges and Pune Warriors. pic/afp

Rahul Sharma got his India break after fruitful stints in the Indian Premier League with Deccan Charges and Pune Warriors. Pic/afp

He sees no business in coming over here. "I have not played any competitive cricket for the last two years due to injuries. I have another chance to break into the Punjab team for the limited overs matches if I do well in the district matches which will begin from December 23. I want to concentrate on my fitness and hope I play without any more injuries," Rahul tells mid-day in a conversation. Rahul got his India break after fruitful stints in the Indian Premier League with Deccan Charges, Pune Warriors (both defunct teams now), Delhi Daredevils and Chennai Super Kings.

It was in the 2011 IPL with Pune where Rahul impressed with figures of 4-0-7-2 versus Mumbai Indians at the DY Patil Stadium. In the season, he finished with 16 wickets at an economy rate of 5.46. That IPL season paved his way for Team India as he made his debuted in Indore in the fourth ODI against West Indies in 2011. He managed to play three more ODIs and two T20Is before being dumped by the national selectors. His alleged involvement in the 2012 Juhu rave party bust-up by Mumbai Police did no good to his reputation. He tested positive for recreational drug. Though the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) continued to back Rahul, but his career had taken a hit as he was relegated to the India A side and also struggled to find a place in the IPL teams. And slowly, he faded out of public memory with 2014 IPL games being his last competitive matches.

Rahul's dramatic career fall is often linked to the drug case. Rahul, who is a son of a police sub-inspector, pleads it is his spate of injuries that led to his decline. "It started with a back injury, then shoulder and knee. It affected my rhythm. Last year I made a comeback in the Punjab T20 team, but I didn't get any opportunity. I was not considered for the one-dayers and dropped without getting any game. "Before the last IPL, Rahul (Dravid) bhai called me for Delhi Daredevils trials. I again got injured after I the first ball. Since then I have been doing my rehab at the National Cricket Academy (Bangalore). I was doing well in the Punjab district matches in August. In one of the matches, I injured my knee as the ground was a bit wet. I again went into the rehab for the knee injury. I came back only this month from the NCA," says Rahul.

The toll of injuries was such that Rahul has been confined to with just 'likes' and 'retweets' of his fellow teammates' posts on Twitter. The conversation again steers towards the rave party incident. "There was nothing rave in that party. We were not in a villa; we were at a five-star hotel where the norms are strict," Rahul clarifies. "I was falsely implicated. I was on the terrace. No one came on the top. Yes, I like to party… I am a Punjabi and like to dance. I like to go to clubs. But I know where to draw a line. I know my limits. I have never had any drink. My game is very important to me. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time," he says. Rahul reveals he was tested positive for inhaling the smoke from cannabis. "It was just a lame excuse as I was on the terrace and I could not have inhaled it. They had nothing against me. The tests too were also done in a shambolic manner. They took the urine in churan bottles. There were hundred bottles which had no names on it," Rahul claims.

As he set his sight on getting ready for the 2019 World Cup, Rahul is confident the perception of people towards him will change once he is back on the field. "People do loose talk that 'I got dropped because of the doping scandal'. I don't understand how to make them understand the real fact. I played for three years after that. I don't have to prove myself to anyone. I haven't done anything wrong. Once I start performing, the perception towards me will automatically change. These two-and-half years have been quite difficult. I know myself what I have gone through. In these two year is could have done so much for the Indian team," he concludes.

 

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