Deepak Hooda joins Rajasthan for 2021-22 season after cutting ties with Baroda
Update comes six months after he had accused Baroda captain Krunal Pandya of "bad behaviour"
Deepak Hooda has joined Rajasthan as a professional for the 2021-22 Indian domestic season after severing ties with Baroda, his home team. Hooda, who had been banned for the 2020-21 season in January by the Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) for "indiscipline", wrote to the BCA on July 12 asking to be "relieved" with immediate effect so he can "explore" professional opportunities with another team.
In his letter to the BCA, Hooda said his time with Baroda gave him some of his most "memorable years", but that he wanted to move on with an aim to "furthering my growth in my career and also I feel that my professional services can be utilised in a better manner".
Former Mumbai captain Shishir Hattangadi, the BCA's chief executive officer, told ESPNcricinfo that Hooda had been asked in early June to join the conditioning camp comprising 45 probables for the men's senior team. In an e-mail to the BCA apex council, Hattangadi said that Hooda had been picked for the conditioning camp by the state selection committee on June 25, and while the player was duly informed, on June 30 the selectors informed Hattangadi that Hooda had not joined the camp. On the same day, Hooda sent an email to the BCA president and Hattangadi saying that he would join the camp on July 10.
"We received a mail on the 13th of July from Deepak Hooda requesting for an NOC to allow him to play elsewhere (team not mentioned)," Hattangadi said in the email to the apex council. "We have granted him an NOC signed by the Secretary, and have informed the Selection Committee and the coach of the development."
The development came six months after Hooda moved out of the team hotel on the eve of the Baroda's first match in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this January, alleging that Baroda captain Krunal Pandya's "bad behaviour" including using abusive language and "bullying" had made him "depressed, demoralised and under pressure" and forced him to walk out.
Recently speaking on Sportscast, the podcast hosted by the Times of India, Pandya said that he had always believed in putting the team the first and the reason he had been silent on the issue was to maintain his "dignity".
"There have been a lot of allegations," Pandya said on the podcast, aired in June. "I've gone through a lot of hate messages on social media. It doesn't bother me that much. I've never spoken on that from my side and have maintained that dignity because I've (got) very, very high respect for the institution that I play [for]. Obviously there have been campaigns running against me, to portray me in a particular way.
"Till now I've not said anything, which is not because I'm wrong but because I have respect for the association, I have that respect for the sport and I have the respect for my team-mates. I've never come out and said my side of the so far, it's only one side of the story [that has come out]. And I'll maintain my dignity.
"What the other person did in this incident was going out in public and saying his own side of the story and gaining sympathy. From my side I'll say that I and Hardik have always, always played this sport as a team sport and we have never ever kept ourselves first. As a leader it was my responsibility that it's a team sport and if one individual can be so indisciplined and can be so careless that he's troubling or not maintaining the decorum of the team. I always stand for things that are right, without agenda and Hardik is also the same in this case. I will stand always for the team and for the players. Our intention has always been to help more young players, our focus has lately been to bring more talent from Baroda and to help the youngsters."
Hooda, 26, is originally from Haryana but started his first-class, List A and T20 careers with Baroda, turning out first in a T20 game in March 2013 before the other formats. Overall, Hooda played 42 first-class matches for Baroda, making 2718 runs with a highest score of 293* at an average of 43.14, including eight centuries and 15 fifties. In List A cricket, Hooda made 1428 runs from 40 matches at 42, with two centuries and 10 fifties. In T20 cricket, where Hooda is known as a power-hitter, he played 51 matches for Baroda, scoring 993 runs at a strike rate of 138.1 with a century and six fifties.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo