India A v WI A, unofficial T20I, Bangalore September 21, 2013

Rahul pleased with comeback from drug scandal

Rahul Sharma, the India A legspinner, has said he always had the self-belief to overcome the drugs scandal that threatened to derail his career and prove he has plenty to offer with his bowling skills. Rahul took his maiden five-for in T20 cricket on Saturday, helping India A win the only T20 against West Indies A by 93 runs in Bangalore.

Rahul had been picked for the first one-dayer, when he took 2 for 57 but was dropped for the next two. He was recalled for the T20 and his 5 for 23 sent West Indies A packing in 16.2 overs while chasing an improbable 215.

"I am pleased to return with good performances after the IPL in 2012," Rahul said. "It was a tough phase for me and I used to feel bad about it even during this season. But I had the belief that I could come out of it quickly and do well."

Rahul and his Pune Warriors team-mate, the South Africa fast bowler Wayne Parnell, were among 90 people detained following a party at a hotel in the Juhu suburb of Mumbai on May 20 last year, a day after the Warriors' IPL 2012 campaign ended. According to reports, recreational drugs were consumed at the party. Both players were charged for consuming drugs in March this year but were allowed to play in IPL 2013.

Rahul took four wickets in the three-match unofficial ODI series against New Zealand A recently and was named in the limited-overs squads against West Indies A. On Saturday, he dismissed Kirk Edwards for a first-ball duck, getting him to drive to mid-off. He then had the innings top-scorer Andre Fletcher bowled for 32, trying to sweep. He gave the batsman a salute send-off to stir things up. Faced with a mounting asking rate, the lower order gifted away their wickets in pursuit of runs.

"The coaches, team-mates and captains believed in me. I had met Narendra Hirwani and he gave me some tips and shared his experience with me. I had a chance to speak to Anil bhai [Kumble] as well," Rahul said. "I'm looking to take this performance forward."

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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