India news – Hanuma Vihari commits to Andhra after ‘full assurance’ from Telugu Desam Party minister

After stating publicly earlier this year that he would “never play for Andhra again”, out-of-favour India Test batter Hanuma Vihari is set to rejoin the association ahead of the upcoming domestic season. This after he was assured full support by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the state’s new ruling party.

Earlier this month, Vihari was granted a long-awaited no-objection certificate by the Andhra Cricket Association (ACA). This followed a lengthy public spat in the aftermath of their 2023-24 Ranji Trophy campaign. At the time, Vihari had said he was “humiliated and embarrassed” at the treatment meted out to him by certain factions within the association. He alleged “political interference” as one of the reasons for him stepping down as captain at the start of the season.

However, on Monday, Vihari held meetings with TDP officials before confirming his move.

“I’m so happy to meet minister Nara Lokesh gaaru [TDP general secretary] today, and he assured me that I will have full support coming back to Andhra Cricket Association,” Vihari told reporters. “I am so happy meeting him, and I have got full assurance after meeting him. I understand his aspirations for the Andhra Cricket Association.

“It’s good to be back in Andhra cricket. What I faced in the last couple of years was a lot of humiliation. I lost my self-respect. I wanted to leave Andhra Cricket Association and move to another state, but I’ve now got the assurance. So I am looking forward to coming back and serving Andhra for a long time to come.”

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Vihari’s U-turn, however, has left the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA) fuming, with association insiders unhappy about being kept in the dark about the development. He was in talks to play for Madhya Pradesh last year, too, but the move fell through with neither party specifying the reason.

ESPNcricinfo understands Vihari’s contract as a professional with MPCA was a formality after he had held talks with Chandrakant Pandit, MPCA’s director of cricket, over the move.

Vihari, 30, played the most recent of his 16 Tests in July 2022. He has scored 839 runs at an average of 33.56 for India, with his lone century coming in the West Indies in 2019.

Having started his career with Hyderabad in 2010-11, Vihari moved to Andhra in 2015-16. He then briefly returned to Hyderabad prior to the 2021-22 season before moving to Andhra again.

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