Shanthakumaran Sreesanth was born on the 6th February in 1983 in a town named Kothamangalam in Kerala which lies on the foothills of the Western Ghats. He burst onto the scene in 2002-03 before making his international debut in October 2005 in the ODI series against Sri Lanka. A few months later, he made his Test debut as well and soon became a regular in the Indian team across formats.
He was also a part of India’s World T20 triumph in 2007 and also the World Cup in 2011. He played international cricket for more than five years (2006-2011) before injuries plagued his career, and just when he was on the verge of making a comeback, he was involved in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal. Since then, he has been banned for life by the BCCI.
However, Sreesanth did have plenty of moments which he and his state Kerala can be proud of. Here are some of those moments.
#5 3/45 vs South Africa, 2nd Test – Durban (2010)
India’s tour of South Africa in 2010-11 was off to a disastrous start. They were humbled by the hosts in the first Test as they lost by an innings.
They were off to a poor start in the second Test as well. They were bowled out for 205 in the first innings. However, an inspired show by the bowlers brought them back in the game as the Proteas were bundled out for 131. In the second innings, VVS Laxman’s 96 helped India set the hosts a target of 303 in the fourth innings.
South Africa started the chase well as the openers put on 63 for the opening wicket. Sreesanth, who had picked up the wicket of AB de Villiers in the first essay, produced the initial breakthrough. He had South African skipper Graeme Smith top-edging a short ball straight to MS Dhoni. He then got the big wicket of Hashim Amla a few over later.
Sreesanth then produced a snorter to dismiss Jacques Kallis as his three-wicket burst put India in the driver’s seat. His 3/45 opened up the game for the visitors and India capitalized and won the Test match.
#4 Ranji Trophy hat-trick (2004)
In the 2004-05 Ranji season, Sreesanth became the first man from Kerala to take a hat-trick in the history of the tournament. By then, he had already made a little name for himself, as he had troubled some of the top batsmen in the Indian domestic circuit.
In November 2004, Kerala played Himachal Pradesh (HP) at Palakkad. The HP batsmen absolutely dominated the first day’s play (321/2). Sreesanth was one of the only two wicket-takers of the first day. However, the second day saw a big twist.
Sreesanth ripped through the HP middle-order as he registered a memorable hat-trick. He first dismissed the centurion Manvinder Bisla on the last ball of the 92nd over by edging him to the wicket-keeper.
On the first two balls of his next over, Ajay Mannu and Paras Dogra were out LBW and bowled respectively as Sreesanth completed a hat-trick.
The Kerala pacer finished with a fifer in that first innings as HP were bowled out for 465. Kerala managed to draw the game, but conceded a first-innings lead.
#3 6/55 vs England, Indore – 7th ODI (2006)
This was one of Sreesanth’s best bowling performances in an ODI game. During England’s tour to India in 2006, the Test series ended in a draw (1-1) but India absolutely dominated the ODI series.
When the action moved to Indore for the seventh and the final ODI, India were already 4-1 up. In this ODI, India opted to field first after winning the toss. England did get off to a decent start as Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell put on a 43-run opening stand.
However, it was Sreesanth who got a couple of wickets to put the brakes on the scoring rate. He dismissed Strauss and Matt Prior in successive overs to leave England 47/2. But fifties from Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood and Geraint Jones put England in a strong position. In fact, Collingwood and Jones had added 91 for the fifth wicket and were looking good for a big finish.
However, some excellent death bowling from Sreesanth saw England slip from 257/4 to 288 all out in the last five overs. The Kerala pacer ran through the England lower-order as he finished with 6/55, his best figures in ODI cricket.
Half-centuries from all the top four batsmen helped India wipe off the chase with 5 balls to spare, and Sreesanth for his excellent figures, was awarded with the Man of the Match award.
#2 2/12 vs Australia, Durban (2007 World T20)
Exceeding quite a few expectations, India had made it to the semi-final of that inaugural T20 World Cup. Sreesanth was an integral member of that 2007 World T20 line-up which was led by a young MS Dhoni.
They faced the mighty Aussies in the semis. Batting first, India scored 188 in their 20 overs. Yuvraj Singh’s 30-ball 70 and MS Dhoni’s 18-ball 36 had helped India get to a match-winning score. But Australia had always had the better of India in multi-nation events and hence, the pressure was huge.
Australia got off to a decent start as they reached 36/0 in 5 overs. Sreesanth had bowled a couple of excellent overs (2-1-5-0 at that stage). He continued with his third over of the spell and knocked over the dangerous Adam Gilchrist to give India their first breakthrough.
Matthew Hayden was batting beautifully and Australia seemed to be on track in their chase when he was at the crease. However, Sreesanth came back for his final over and cleaned up the big Aussie opener as well to drag India back into the match. That wicket changed the momentum and India went on to register a famous 15-run win and advanced to the final.
#1 5/40 vs SA, 1st Test - Johannesburg (2006)
South Africa has been a pretty special place for Sreesanth. He had a lot of success in the Rainbow Nation.
On his very first tour to South Africa, he became a star. In the first Test of the 2006-07 Test series, India were skittled out for 249 in their first innings. In his comeback game, Sourav Ganguly struck a fighting 51. VRV Singh’s 19-ball 27 helped India get to 249 after they were 205/9.
In reply, South Africa were blown away by a fiery Sreesanth. The Kerala pacer made the ball talk and troubled almost every South African batsman. He first got Graeme Smit out LBW in his very first over. Then there were a couple of similar dismissals as Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis both were out edging to second slip.
Sreesanth took three of the first four wickets to fall. In the 8th consecutive over of his first spell, he knocked over Mark Boucher before dismissing Shaun Pollock LBW in the next over and completing his five-wicket haul.
Sreesanth bowled 10 overs (taking 5/40) on the trot with the new ball and went on a rampage which blew away the Proteas.
He took three more wickets in the second innings to finish with 8 wickets in the match, helping India register a famous win.