S Sreesanth, a former India fast bowler, has been included in Kerala’s preliminary team of 24 players for the upcoming Ranji season. After an almost nine-year absence, the 38-year-old is returning to red-ball cricket. Sreesanth last appeared in first-class cricket in 2013, when he represented the Rest of India against Mumbai in the Irani Cup.

After serving a seven-year ban for his alleged role in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal, the veteran bowler was overjoyed to be included in Kerala’s preliminary team. “Feels fantastic to be back after 9 years playing Ranji trophy for my lovely state, extremely grateful to each and everyone of you, tons of love and respect,” Sreesanth tweeted on Sunday.

Sreesanth was detained by Delhi Police in 2013 for allegedly being involved in the IPL spot-fixing controversy, with Ajit Chandila and Ankit Chavan. During the seventh season of the IPL, Sreesanth was suspected of spot-fixing, but he was cleared of all accusations due to a lack of evidence, and his suspension was lifted on September 13, 2020.

Meanwhile, this season’s Ranji Trophy captain will be Sachin Baby, with wicketkeeper-batsman Vishnu Vinod as his deputy. Kerala lost in the quarter-finals of the Syed Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day competition, despite Sanju Samson’s captaincy.

The probable list does not include Robin Uthappa, who has yet to restore his fitness. The second stumper is Varun Nayanar, while Mohammad Azharuddeen has been overlooked. The preliminary camp will begin on December 30 at Wayanad. Kerala, along with Bengal, Vidarbha, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Tripura, is part of Elite Group B.