Sri Lanka v India, 3rd ODI, Colombo July 29, 2012

Rahul Sharma holds up under scrutiny

Rahul Sharma played his first ODI after news of his alleged recreational drug use, and he seemed to be coping quite well

When the legspinner Rahul Sharma began his spell in the 14th over, he was under more scrutiny than a second spinner would normally be. He was playing his first game after reportedly testing positive for recreational drugs following a police raid at a party in Mumbai, where Rahul was present. How would he fare? How would he carry himself on the field? As it turned out, Rahul did just fine, dismissing Mahela Jayawardene during his eight overs.

After India won the third ODI in Colombo, Gautam Gambhir said the key to Rahul coping with such problems was to cut them out of his mind. "The media can try and talk about those things but, for me, I think that's what the challenge is - you just got to keep playing. These are the things off the field. There will be a time when he [Rahul] will be under pressure for his performances as well, so he needs to cut off all those things and concentrate on what he wants to do. I think he bowled well for us coming back after a long time."

Rahul has faced adversity and criticism before. He chose to continue playing cricket against medical advice after being diagnosed with Bell's Palsy. His eye would water so much that he had to use eye-drops and a towel after each delivery to spot the next one in the field. And from the start, Rahul had been criticised for not being a big spinner of the ball, more so after he made the Indian team following a breakthrough IPL season.

Recreational drugs, however, are different. Overcoming an illness is a personal battle and responding to criticism is part of a cricketer's life. Recreational drugs are against the law, and if he used them Rahul could have to endure the police and legal proceedings.

The news of his positive drugs test came on the eve of the first ODI in Hambantota. Rahul, however, maintained his innocence all along, but having the sword of the state hanging over your head is hardly the way to start a season of international cricket.

Rahul is not soft, though. He might go about his job quietly during practice, he might come across as a bit of a recluse, but soft he's not. He knows he can do little about the drugs case while he's in Sri Lanka. So despite the duress, he isn't worrying himself sick over it.

The support from the management and his team-mates has helped. Rohit Sharma, for instance, asked a journalist at the team hotel in Hambantota not to constantly ask Rahul about the issue. A sense of normalcy is probably the best antidote at this time. So Rahul has been going about his bowling and fielding practice as usual, and he's been talking shop with fellow legspinner Narendra Hirwani, who's the India selector on tour. Nothing has seemed out of place. And as long as Rahul is in Sri Lanka, nothing will.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 30, 2012, 12:24 GMT

    I am starting to think rahul Sharma is almost like an Anil Kimble, tall release of spin. him and ashwin would make a better duel then Ohja and aswin.

  • Andy on July 29, 2012, 13:20 GMT

    @Aumlan Guha: Rahul's result came after he was sent to SL & BCCI still awaiting for the drug result. Since, Rahul is under going treatment for Bell's Palsy as well, so let us not pre-judge him. BCCI hasn't got report from Police yet, according to our law - every one remains innocent until proven guilty. Its the same reason Rahul is still playing, once BCCI gets the forensic report from police, then next could be taken care of.

  • Muthuvel on July 29, 2012, 12:56 GMT

    Recreational drug use is punishable by the law BCCI need to worry about it, if Rahul is a good spinner he should play. For people who are dissing Rohit for standing up for Rahul, there is a reason why you probably are not making important decisions for the country.

  • venkat on July 29, 2012, 10:28 GMT

    @abyrao "in the news for wrong reasons" is not reason enough to exclude an otherwise deserving player. The BCCI is investigating the matter and he is innocent until proven guilty. @Nagraj Vr, Rahul Sharma is accused of having used recreational drugs not performancing enhancing drugs. There is a big difference between marijuana and steriods, though they are both illegal. In sports using performancing enhancing drugs is a more egregious offence -- Rahul though is NOT accussed of this but is accused of using recretational drugs at a party.

  • Dummy4 on July 29, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    Can someone pls explain why someone who has tested positive for drug use (even if at a party) only recently is even in the squad? There are very strong allegations against him, he could be facing legal action - and the BCCI still does not deem it necessary to withdraw him till these are sorted out? Shame..

  • Dummy4 on July 29, 2012, 7:18 GMT

    What many who get tested for drug does not know is the fact some of the eye drops has steroid and most of the from the eye gets into the tummy via the throat. before accusing a person of drug abuse one must find out what medicine has been prescribed to the individual and check the effect of the medicine . As Rahul is diagonised with Bell's palasy, it does indicate that he must have been using eyedrops which has stimulating steroids which gets ingested in the blood. It will well adviced that Rahul shows what medications he is on regularly. All the Best Rahul

  • Mafaz on July 29, 2012, 7:15 GMT

    Good Show Rahul. Rick From SL.

  • Abhay on July 29, 2012, 6:45 GMT

    India has some good spinners on the domestic circuit. Apart from Ashwin and Ojha guys like Iqbal Abdullah, Jakati .... can always represent India. Why go with a guy who is in news for wrong reasons.And Rohit Sharma keeping the journalists away proved that atleast he can do a watchmans job, because he certainly cant bat we dont need a proof after he playing these many matches.

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