Uttar Pradesh cricket has been thrown into a crisis after five players, including two who played a key role in the teams' Ranji Trophy triumph two years ago, shifted allegiance to Railways. Shalabh Srivastava, Praveen Kumar, Shivakant Shukla, Praveen Gupta and Aamir Khan are likely to represent Railways in the upcoming domestic season.

Srivastava, Kumar and Shukla have already been recruited by the Railways team, while Gupta and Khan are waiting for their appointment letters after having applied to join the team.

"Shalabh Srivastava and Shivakant Shukla have got jobs and I have heard that Praveen Kumar, too, has been recruited," Vinod Sharma, the Railways coach told the Indian Express. "For that [the above mentioned players taking the field], we have to wait for the selection meeting in September."

Srivastava,25, a left-arm medium-pacer who has also played for India at the Under-19 level, and allrounder Praveen Kumar, 20, have been consistent performers for Uttar Pradesh. They were instrumental in Uttar Pradesh's Ranji trophy triumph in the 2005-06 season. While the duo are likely to make the Railways XI, they will have to be content with playing in the Plate League, since the team fell short of being promoted to the Super League in the previous season.

Shukla, 21, is a left-hand batsman while Gupta, 20, bowls left-arm orthodox spin. Amir Khan,21, is a wicketkeeper.

Although the players haven't spelt out the reasons for their departure from Uttar Pradesh, it is possible that job security and Uttar Pradesh's cricket politics have played their part. Uttar Pradesh go into the upcoming domestic season in disarray with Mohammad Kaif, their captain, likely to be recalled to the Indian team for the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa and veterans Rizwan Shamshad and Ashish Zaidi in the twilight of their careers.