Sreesanth: Charting the Highs and Lows of Shamed India Bowler
Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Sreesanth's career was a cricketing journey like few others.
His time on both the India national side and the IPL saw the fast bowler relentlessly flirt with controversy, regularly disturb cricket's traditional values and natural order.
Sadly, his combustible character and petulance will forever remain the undesirable hallmarks of his time in the game, his career set to be eternally remembered for sport's most sacrilegious act.
That career has now reached its conclusion, with a disgraced Sreesanth handed a lifetime ban from the BCCI for his role in the spot-fixing that tainted the IPL in 2013.
In such dramatic circumstances, it can become hard to recall the events that defined Sreesanth's career prior to being banished from the game. The latest development in his story will cause many to forget the contrasting moments that littered his career.
A divisive character right to the end, Sreesanth's journey was always turbulent, always chaotic and certainly never dull.
Here are the highs and lows of that violently controversial career.
High: International Breakthrough Versus England
Sreesanth claims a wicket against England in 2006 as he captures 6-55.
Tom Shaw/Getty Images
After completing a rapid rise through the ranks of Indian domestic cricket, Sreesanth found himself on the international stage in 2005 at just 22 years of age.
His aggressive approach and immense threat saw the fast bowler impress during his first year in the India side, as he played 19 ODI's and five Tests during his first 12 months of international cricket.
The fiery quick didn't have to wait long for his first major haul, dismantling England in the seventh ODI of the visitor's 2005-06 tour to India, taking 6-55 as the hosts wrapped up a commanding 5-1 series victory.
In his breakthrough international performance, Sreesanth ran through England's lower order in quick fashion after capturing the wickets of Andrew Strauss and Matt Prior to set the tone for the innings.
It would be the beginning of a prosperous period for the Indian fast bowler.
High: Test Arrival in South Africa
Sreesanth captures a wicket during India's tour of South Africa in 2006.
Gallo Images/Getty Images
Although Sreesanth had played an important role during India's tour to the West Indies in 2006, it wasn't until the team headed to South Africa at the end of that year that we saw him leave his mark in the Test arena.
In the first Test at Johannesburg, Sreesanth destroyed the home side with 5-40 in the first innings, claiming the wickets of Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis within the first eight overs.
A further three scalps in the second innings propelled his team to a 123-run victory.
He followed up that performance with another eight-wicket haul in the second Test at Durban, again doing his damage at the top of South Africa's innings.
Although India would go on to lose the series 2-1, the then 23-year-old had announced his arrival on cricket's most coveted stage.
Low: First Controversies in South Africa
Sreesanth faces up to South Africa's Andre Nel.
Gallo Images/Getty Images
Sreesanth's performances with the ball weren't the only points of focus during his time in South Africa at the end of 2006. That tour also marked the beginning of his highly contentious on-field conduct.
During the first Test at Johannesburg, Sreesanth was involved in two notable confrontations with South African players that brought his eccentric habits into the spotlight.
With India well ahead during their second innings, Sreesanth was given some lip service from South Africa's Andre Nel, the fast bowler making a gesture indicating that Sreesanth lacked heart. The tail-ender responded by sending Nel's next delivery over the fence, after which he performed a celebratory dance in the middle of the pitch.
The very next day, Sreesanth was reported to the match referee by the on-field umpires and subsequently fined 30 percent of his match fee for giving Amla a send-off following the capture of his wicket in the game's fourth innings.
Although both incidents didn't appear to offend the home side or the players in question, that Test marked the beginning of Sreesanth's controversial ride, paving way for further indiscretions to follow.
Low: Shoulder Barge on Michael Vaughan
Sreesanth clashes with England captain during the second Test at Trent Bridge in 2007.
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Sreesanth headed to England in 2007 with his petulant reputation continuing to escalate.
While his performances with the ball in South Africa had impressed many, his increasingly apparent habit of engaging in controversial conduct was seeing him become cricket's most divisive player after just two years in the international game.
In the second Test at Trent Bridge, the fast bowler added further to that perception, when he deliberately shoulder barged England captain Michael Vaughan.
The paceman was fined 50 percent of his match fee for grossly crossing the line of acceptable behaviour and was given the following stern warning by ICC match referee Ranjan Madugalle:
Cricket is a non-contact sport and any deviation from that fact is completely unacceptable, a point I made to Sreesanth in handing down my verdict.
The seamer was also heavily criticised in the same Test for bowling a dangerous full toss to England batsman Kevin Pietersen.
Former England captain Michael Atherton, writing in his column for The Telegraph, called for Sreesanth to be banned at the time:
If bowled deliberately there cannot be a more cowardly action on a cricket field; if bowled accidentally it is still potentially lethal. Either way it should incur an immediate one-match ban.
High: 2007 ICC World Twenty20
Sreesanth in the 2007 ICC World Twenty20.
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
After an incredibly turbulent year, Sreesanth desperately needed to find himself in the headlines for the right reasons at the ICC's World Twenty20 in September 2007.
Fortunately, he was able to do just that.
The right-armer bowled beautifully in India's final group-match victory against South Africa, claiming a tidy 2-23 from his four overs that helped his side advance into the tournament's semifinals.
In the second semifinal, Sreesanth recorded figures of 2-12, claiming the critical wickets of Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden as India overcame the mighty Australians to advance to the final against Pakistan.
Although his bowling in the final proved to be expensive, he held onto a catch from the bowling of Joginder Sharma to dismiss Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq, which secured the inaugural Twenty20 world championship for India.
Low: Spat with Andrew Symonds
Sreesanth and Andrew Symonds clash during Australia's ODI tour of India in 2007.
Hamish Blair/Getty Images
After a short time of making headlines for the right reasons, it didn't take long for Sreesanth to begin doing the opposite once more.
Australia's ODI tour to India in late 2007 was controversial for many reasons, as the teams fought a hotly contested, yet bitter series.
Not only were players feuding, but Australia's Andrew Symonds was having monkey chants directed at him from sections of the crowds at Vadodara, Nagpur and Mumbai.
Yet instead of attempting to quell the apparent disharmony between the teams, Sreesanth added to the fire during the fourth ODI in Mohali.
The fast bowler, who ran drinks onto the field as 12th man, sledged Symonds on his way back to the dressing room after being dismissed by R.P. Singh. An intense confrontation followed, adding to the poor spirit between the teams in the series.
The Indian seamer also gave Symonds an aggressive send-off during the second ODI at Kochi, after dismissing the dangerous all-rounder for 87 in the game's first innings.
Low: Slapgate with Harbhajan Singh
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Sreesanth and Harbhajan Singh provided the IPL with its first on-field controversy in the competition's inaugural year in 2008.
Sreesanth's Kings XI Punjab defeated Harbhajan's Mumbai Indians in Mohali on April 25, which saw the fast bowler approach his national teammate after the match, reportedly to console his opponent.
The off-spinner reacted by slapping Sreesanth, which led to the fast bowler being captured in tears by cameras at the ground shortly after the incident.
Although Harbhajan made a public apology in front of cameras following a disciplinary hearing for the incident, the event marked another low in Sreesanth's career, as Harbhajan's act demonstrated that the seamer's controversial antics had become a sticking point with his own India teammates.
Low: More IPL Controversy
Sreesanth during the 2010 IPL tournament.
Sreesanth entered 2010 already treading on thin ice, after the BCCI had issued him a "final warning" and threatened suspension from domestic cricket if any further violations of the Code of Conduct were committed.
That warning followed a run-in with Mumbai fast bowler Dhawal Kulkarni in 2009, who Sreesanth had directed abusive language towards during the Irani Cup, which saw him lose 60 percent of his match fee.
Yet that warning didn't prevent the controversial bowler from finding himself in hot water once more, as he found himself receiving more disciplinary action during the third season of the IPL.
This time, Sreesanth's offence was showing dissent towards an umpire, after he sarcastically clapped and applauded an official's no-ball decision on his bowling when playing against the Rajasthan Royals.
Once more, he lost a portion of his match fee (20 percent this time), and once more, he found himself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
Low: International Career Comes to an End
Sreesanth struggles during India's tour of England in 2011.
Gareth Copley/Getty Images
2011 was the year Sreesanth saw his controversial international career come to an end.
In the first match of that year's World Cup, the right-arm quick completed one of the worst performances of his career, being sent to all corners by Bangladesh as he finished with 0-53 from five overs at Dhaka.
He was immediately dropped for the remainder of the tournament, before earning a surprise recall for the final against Sri Lanka.
Although India claimed a dramatic victory, Sreesanth's bowling was again below standard, leaking 52 runs from eight overs in another wicketless performance.
It would be his last ODI appearance.
His Test career didn't last much longer, as another trip to England in July and August officially marked the end of his time in an India uniform.
Incredibly expensive and rarely dangerous, Sreesanth watched his Test career slip away as England hammered their way to a 4-0 series victory.
The fourth Test at The Oval was the last time the controversial quick appeared on the international stage.
Low: Life Ban for IPL Spot-Fixing
Sreesanth during his last ODI appearance for India.
Hamish Blair/Getty Images
The lowest of lows. Embarrassed, disgraced and banished.
On Sept. 13, Sreesanth was given a lifetime ban from the BCCI for his involvement in the spot-fixing that marred the 2013 IPL campaign.
Ankeet Chavan, his Royals teammate and Mumbai spinner, was also banned for life, while cricketer-come-bookie Amit Singh received a five-year suspension.
Ravi Sawani, the man who led the BCCI's probe, made it clear that the men in question deserved no leniency with regards to their respective punishments.
"There is no specific mitigating factor that would require any mercy while sanctioning the aforesaid guilty players," Sawani said in his report, according to ESPN Cricinfo.
"Obviously, the anti-corruption education given to the three players had no impact on the conduct. Therefore, the three players deserve no leniency whatsoever," he added.
Sreesanth's controversial career was brought to an alarming halt.