The Delhi Police’s apparent confidence on the spot-fixing case against Sreesanth took a severe blow in court on Friday, when the pacer’s lawyer Pinaki Mishra sought to demolish its charges one by one, while seeking bail for the arrested cricketer.
Mishra also presented key exhibits such as photographs of matches and bank details to back up his arguments and to pick holes in the Delhi Police’s construction of the story. There was no new evidence against the cricketer other than the circumstantial prima facie charge.
The senior lawyer focussed on three key pieces of evidence that the Police has fielded against the cricketer: the use of the towel to signal to the bookies, his extravagant spending and the money trail, and the particular over in which Sreesanth gave away 13 runs.
On the use of the towel, Mishra said it was not unusual for a cricketer to use a towel to wipe off sweat while playing in hot conditions where the temperature can range from 38-42 degree Celsius. In the match in which he allegedly fixed an over, it was not just Sreesanth who used a towel; even Rahul Dravid was seen using one. More over, Sreesanth is a fast bowler who bowls at about 136 km/h, the lawyer pointed out.
Targetting the police’s towel theory further, Mishra said it was not just in this particular IPL match that Sreesanth has used a towel. He could be seen using it in many test matches in the past as well. Mishra presented pictures of some of these test matches to support his argument.
Referring to the exercises that he did prior to an over, allegedly to signal to the bookies, he said fast bowlers stretching and bending before a spell is nothing unusual. Sreesanth has some superstitious beliefs, which he sticks to in the field. He even has a particular way of tying his shoelace.
Another key argument of the defence lawyer was against the police charge that the pacer willfully gave away 14 runs. He said Sreesanth gave only five runs in the first four balls of the said over, out of which two were dot-balls. If he had conspired to cheat, would he have taken the risk of giving away nine runs in the last two balls? For nine runs in two balls, one should have gone for a six. Would he have risked it if he had agreed to fix his over?
His fifth ball in the over was short pitched and a difficult one to score a six. It was purely because of a skilful batsman like Gilchrist that it went for a four. The next ball was on the offside, which was packed with fielders. Here again, only a player like Gilchrist could have hit it for four.
Sreesanth’s economy rate in the IPL was nine and giving away 13 runs was not a big deviation. If a fast bowler is compromised, he could bowl loose or throw a no-ball or wide. Sreesanth had done nothing of that, the lawyer pointed out.
Mishra also demolished the police theory on the money trail - that the money the cricketer spent on parties and shopping was from the bookies. He argued that all the money that the cricketer had spent on the parties was from his own account. Bank records show that he had withdrawn Rs 10,000 each five times in two days. The other transactions were done online and using debit cards.
Sreesanth does like to party, but it is not illegal to party using one’s own money, the lawyer argued.
Mishra also argued that although the police allege that he had spoken to bookies, no evidence has been presented so far. Just because they recovered a mobile phone, does he become a criminal?
One of the top lawyers of Kerala High Court, Advocate Ramkumar was also present in the court to support the arguments against Sreesanth. The argument will continue at the Additional Sessions Court in Saket on Monday.