Maharashtra cricket chief hints he has strong case to block him July 18, 2006

Bahutule quits Maharashtra in favour of Mumbai

Cricinfo staff

Sairaj Bahutule: caught in a potential wrangle? © Getty Images

Former Mumbai legspinner Sairaj Bahutule's decision to quit Maharashtra and return to the city of his birth has run into criticism from local cricket authorities. Ajay Shirke, the Maharashtra Cricket Association [MCA] chief, has hinted at a potential legal tussle following Bahutule's decision to quit after just one year.

Having represented Mumbai since the start of his first-class career, Bahutule, 33, made the move to the Maharashtra side last season. Shirke, credited with strengthening the MCA's cricket tiers, was far from pleased with the decision to terminate his contract. "We are not disputing a cricketer's rights to play for any team but we have to work within the ambit of professionalism," he told Mid-Day, a Mumbai-based tabloid. "Sairaj confirmed that he will be playing for us this season, not only to me but to our coach Chandrakant Pandit too.

"He hasn't responded to our calls and messages. We then got in touch with his club [in Surrey, England] and managed to get an email address," he added. "Even while shifting from Mumbai to Maharashtra, I found him quite indecisive."

In response to reports of an incident between Bahutule and Daren Holder, the MCA's director of cricket, Shirke said: "Dressing-room flare-ups are nothing new in cricket. They happen and I got that sorted out. Daren is not coach of the team, Pandit is."

Bahutule, who played two Tests and eight one-day internationals for India, said the decision to return to Mumbai was a personal one. "I understand they [MCA] are upset," he said. "They are entitled to feel that way and I cannot forget their support. But I took a call to come back and spend the last few years for Mumbai. My heart dictated that."

Bahutule has been welcomed by the Mumbai Cricket Association.