‘I’ll never play for Andhra’: Hanuma Vihari reveals why he left captaincy after end of Ranji Trophy campaign

In a dramatic turn of events in Indian domestic cricket, Hanuma Vihari, the seasoned Indian Test batsman and erstwhile captain of the Andhra cricket team, has come forth with startling revelations after Andhra’s exit from the Ranji Trophy 2024. The cricketing community was caught off guard when Vihari, through an elaborate Instagram post dated February 26, announced his irrevocable decision to sever ties with his home state’s team, citing disrespect and heavy-handed treatment from the Andhra Cricket Association (ACA).

Vihari’s emotive statement followed Andhra’s heartbreaking defeat to Madhya Pradesh by a razor-thin margin of 4 runs at Indore, which propelled Madhya Pradesh into the semifinals. The result rendered more profound the grievances shared by the former captain concerning his removal from the captaincy position. According to Vihari, the root of the issue lay in an altercation with a fellow player post the first match of the season. This player, noted to be the progeny of a politician, lodged a complaint with the ACA against Vihari after an on-field incident.

Despite a commendable team effort that saw Andhra chase down a formidable Bengal score of 410 runs in the first innings, with Andhra putting up 445 in reply, Vihari found himself urged to relinquish the captaincy. The cricketer mentioned, “I was the captain in the first game against Bengal, during that game I shouted at the 17th player, and he complained to his dad (who is a politician). His dad, in return, asked the Association to take action against me.” He articulated his feelings of betrayal and neglect, highlighting his dedication and commitment to the team, having led them to the knockout stages five times in the past seven years and representing India in sixteen Test matches.

The toll of the episode on Vihari was significant, leading him to express his sense of humiliation. Yet, his love for the sport and respect for his teammates compelled him to participate in the season. He remarked, “I felt embarrassed but the only reason I continued playing this season because I respect the game and my team.” Vihari elaborated on the undue influence of the association, which, in his view, had eclipsed the very players it ought to uphold, thus leading to an environment bereft of the self-respect he deemed crucial.

Vihari’s testament marked a grave juncture in his cricketing journey with Andhra – a journey he chose to conclude owing to the irrecoverable loss of his self-respect, albeit retaining affection for the team and its potential. He conveyed his firm decision with, “I’ve decided that I’ll never play for Andhra where I lost my self-respect.”

Subsequent to Vihari’s disclosure, social media witnessed a response from Prudhvi Raj, the player entangled in the controversy with Vihari, who refuted the claims through an Instagram story that gained widespread attention. Raj maintained the sanctity of the game above all else and condemned any personal attacks or use of vulgar language, asserting that his self-respect was paramount.

As the saga unfolds, the Andhra Cricket Association finds itself grappling with the fallout of these accusations and the public relations imbroglio it has spawned. Meanwhile, speculation about Vihari’s future endeavors in domestic cricket has been stoked by reports of a potential move to Madhya Pradesh the previous year. With Andhra’s campaign cut short and MP advancing in the tournament, the cricket circles are abuzz anticipating the next chapter in Hanuma Vihari’s professional career.

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