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News

Vihari set to move to Madhya Pradesh from Andhra

Kulwant Khejroliya is likely to join him as the 2021-22 Ranji Trophy champions get ready for the new season

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
29-Jun-2023
Hanuma Vihari made 839 runs in 16 Tests for India  •  BCCI

Hanuma Vihari made 839 runs in 16 Tests for India  •  BCCI

In an effort to reignite his India career, Hanuma Vihari is set to play for Madhya Pradesh in the 2023-24 domestic season. The 29-year-old, who has played 16 Tests, will be one of two professionals in the mix, subject to a No Objection Certificate from his current employers, the Andhra Cricket Association.
Vihari will join an already strong middle order comprising Rajat Patidar, Venkatesh Iyer and Shubham Sharma. Vihari is currently captaining South Zone in the Duleep Trophy and may be in contention to lead Madhya Pradesh as well. It is understood he was keen to play under Chandrakant Pandit, a renowned domestic cricket coach who has won the Ranji Trophy with Mumbai, Vidarbha and, most-recently, with MP.
Vihari hasn't been part of India's Test squad since July last year, when they played the final Test of the five-match series in England. In his 16-match career so far, Vihari has managed 839 runs at an average of 33.56 with his lone century coming against West Indies.
In his most recent domestic season, where he captained Andhra to the knockouts, Vihari managed just 490 runs in 14 innings with two half-centuries. His final act was a gutsy rearguard effort where he batted left-handed - he is a right-hander normally - to protect a broken forearm. Overall, his first-class numbers are quite formidable. He averages 53.41 across 113 matches that have brought him 8600 runs, including 23 centuries and 45 half-centuries.
Having started his career with Hyderabad, he moved to Andhra in 2015-16. He then briefly returned to Hyderabad prior to the 2021-22 season before moving to Andhra again. MP will be his third team.
Madhya Pradesh were also keen on signing a left-arm fast bowler and have zeroed in on Kulwant Khejroliya, who plays for Kolkata Knight Riders, the IPL franchise coached by Pandit.
Khejroliya, 31, has an opportunity to establish himself across formats after years of frustration in Delhi. Since his debut in 2017-18, he has managed just 14 first-class matches for a modest return of 32 wickets. Khejroliya's List-A numbers are far more impressive, though. In 29 matches, he has picked up 61 wickets at an average of 19.52. The MPCA has named Vihari and Khejroliya among the probables who will go through a conditioning camp before the start of the season.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo