Cricketer in Kochi after month-long detention in Tihar jail

The Cochin International Airport witnessed a flurry of activity on Wednesday morning when cricketer S. Sreesanth landed here after being let out on bail by a Delhi court.

Sreesanth was returning home after almost a month-long detention in Tihar jail on spot-fixing charges.

At the airport, outdoor broadcasting vans of channels were seen parked right outside the domestic arrival exit where security guards usually don’t allow cabs more than a few minutes’ halt to drop or pick up passengers. The space outside the terminal building was taken over by the media, and was dotted with cameras mounted on tripods.

As a crowd started ballooning, the police made way for a white sedan driven by Sreesanth’s cousin Appu who had come to take the cricketer home. Anticipating media frenzy, police closed the usual exit.

Inside the terminal, the airport staff and shop employees were bunched up against the railing separating the visitor’s area from the arrival section to catch a glimpse of the cricketer.

Five minutes after the clock struck nine, the electronic display board flashed the arrival of the Air India flight AI 467, carrying the cricketer. Signalling the imminent arrival of Sreesanth, his cousin Appu emerged out of the terminal with the cricketer’s baggage. Television reporters who were all along giving a running commentary, which often went all the way back to the morning of May 16 when Sreesanth was arrested, suddenly raised the pitch of reporting. The first of the passengers who emerged out of the terminal were dumbstruck to witness the chaos that greeted them. They could not find their friends and relatives who had come to receive them as they were literally pushed to the background. Excitement reached a feverish pitch, as the reporters caught sight of Sreesanth sporting a beard and clad in white t-shirt and blue denim jeans. He emerged out of the terminal building with his brother Dipu Santhan, friend Jayan Thekkedath and reporters who escorted him from Delhi. Sreesanth addressed the media briefly and started to make a move.

But the media didn’t have enough of him and tailed him despite a protective ring thrown around the cricketer by the police and CISF personnel. At one point, Sreesanth lost his footing in the melee and almost fell. In between a fan was heard shouting “Sreesanth, we love you,” as if to compensate for a few boos that greeted the cricketer on his arrival. In their anxiety to get Sreesanth safely into the car at the earliest, the security personnel took him in the opposite direction where the car was parked. The car had to be brought to his side before he could eventually leave the airport. He shifted into another car in which brother-in-law Madhu Balakrishnan and father Santhakumaran Nair were waiting for him near Kalamassery, away from the media glare.

Jayan Thekkedath said the cricketer had hardly slept the previous night in the excitement of returning home. Sreesanth reached Madhu Balakrishnan’s home “Madhavam” at Tripunithura amid supportive sloganeering by a few fans, who also garlanded him. No sooner had he entered the house than the cricketer found himself in the warm embrace of his mother Savitri Devi who spent most of her time since his arrest in temples and churches praying for the well-being of her son. And for the first time in almost a month, she gave a hearty smile. She fed her son the offerings from a temple.

Sreesanth then sat in the drawing room holding his parents on either side close to him. Ms. Devi could not suppress her love and affection any longer as she embraced him in a tight hug and covered him with kisses with tears rolling down her cheeks. The mother’s emotions rubbed on him as tears welled up in his eyes.

The motherly concern was visible yet again when Sreesanth was addressing the media as she constantly reminded her son not to get in to trouble by answering knotty questions of reporters.

Sreesanth then had his first homely breakfast after a month’s break in the company of his parents and family members.

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