Manhas to play for Jammu and Kashmir
Mithun Manhas has switched from Delhi to Jammu and Kashmir for the forthcoming domestic season. It will be a homecoming for Manhas, who was born in Jammu, but left his home state in his teens in search of better cricketing opportunities in Delhi.
"It's a sort of mixed bag emotions," Manhas told ESPNcricinfo. "While it was difficult to move on from Delhi where my cricket career has shaped up, I am delighted to be joining Jammu and Kashmir. Not only is it my home team but also because the team has been doing quite well in the domestic circuit over the last couple of years. I hope I can help them take their games to the next level."
Ever since making his first-class debut for Delhi in 1997-98 along with the likes of Virender Sehwag, Ashish Nehra and Aakash Chopra, Manhas has been a run machine in domestic cricket. While the other three went on to earn India caps, Manhas did not, partly due to the presence of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly in India's middle order.
Manhas has made 9071 first-class runs in 147 matches, at an average of 45.81. He insisted he had "no regrets" and stressed that he was not leaving Delhi on a bitter note. "I spoke with Chetan Chauhan [the former India opener, who is now a DDCA vice-president] and he told me I could help groom Delhi youngsters," Manhas said. "But I thought there are plenty of youngsters who are ready to shoulder more responsibility, so I should not stick around.
"Moreover, experienced players like Rajat [Bhatia] and Gautam [Gambhir] will ensure the youngsters will be taken care of even in Viru's [Sehwag, who has moved to Haryana] and my absence."
Manhas has plenty to look forward to in the forthcoming domestic season, which starts on October 1: he is 89 runs short of joining Wasim Jaffer (9759 runs), Amol Muzumdar (9202) and Hrishikesh Kanitkar (8059) in the elite club of batsmen with 8000 Ranji Trophy runs.
Manhas said he wasn't too focused on personal milestones. "I am sure I have at least a couple of seasons left in me, so records isn't a concern," he said. "The primary focus will be to help Jammu & Kashmir take yet another step towards becoming a consistently top team in domestic circuit."
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo