Former India captain Sourav Ganguly has stood behind under-fire Rahul Sharma who tested positive for drugs in a rave party in May, saying the young leg-spinner probably committed the "mistake unknowingly" and he, therefore, should not lose his place in the national team for the offence.
The Mumbai Police, on Friday, confirmed that Rahul along with South African cricketer Wayne Parnell, who were arrested at a rave party in Juhu on May 20, tested positive for drugs. They are among the 100-odd people who were detained by the police on that day.
"It's disappointing, but I think, it's a mistake more than a routine thing. He's a young boy, he had gone for a party where probably I am not sure whether knowingly or unknowingly, he had it," Ganguly said.
"I don't think it was a performance enhancing drug for which he should be punished. I think it was of those strange incidents, one unfortunate incident which should not cost him his India place.
"He should be punished for little bit of time but I don't think it's such a grave issue that he should be banned from playing for India. The BCCI needs to counsel him," he added.
Ganguly said that the incident should serve a "learning" experience for the two young cricketers.
"I hope it's a learning curve for both Rahul and Wayne Parnell because they are both very young boys. I hope they don't make this mistake again," the Bengal southpaw told Headlines Today.