Matches (12)
IPL (2)
SA v SL [W] (1)
PAK v WI [W] (1)
ACC Premier Cup (4)
Women's QUAD (2)
Pakistan vs New Zealand (1)
IRE-W vs THAI-W (1)
News

Vihari: 'Political interference forced me to leave Andhra captaincy'

"During the Bengal game, I shouted at 17th player, and he complained to his dad who is a politician"

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
26-Feb-2024
Hanuma Vihari scored 522 runs in 13 innings for Andhra in this season's Ranji Trophy  •  PTI

Hanuma Vihari scored 522 runs in 13 innings for Andhra in this season's Ranji Trophy  •  PTI

Hanuma Vihari has decided to "never play for Andhra" again, saying the treatment he received at the hands of the Andhra Cricket Association (ACA) during the 2023-24 Ranji Trophy has left him "humiliated".
He made his revelation not long after Andhra's dreams of progressing to the Ranji Trophy semi-final for the first time came to a heartbreaking end as they lost to Madhya Pradesh by four runs in Indore.
Vihari had led Andhra's chase of 170 with a fighting 55, the top score in their second innings. He ended the Ranji season with 522 runs in 13 innings, the second-highest for Andhra after Ricky Bhui's tally of 902.
In an Instagram post, Vihari alleged that he was forced to step down as captain following Andhra's opening round fixture against Bengal in January. At the time, he had cited personal reasons for the decision, but said on Saturday that the truth was that the association had taken "action" against him because of political interference.
"I was captain in the first game against Bengal, and during the game, I shouted at 17th player, and he complained to his dad (who is a politician)," Vihari wrote. "His dad in return asked the association to take action against me. Although we chased 410 against last year's finalists Bengal [for a first-innings lead], I was asked to resign from captaincy without any fault of mine.
"I never said anything on a personal note to the player, but the association thought the player was more important than the guy who gave his body on the line last year and batted left-handed, took Andhra to the knockouts five times in the last seven years and played for India in 16 Tests."
The ACA issued a statement in response later in the day, in which it said there were questions around Vihari's captaincy stint. "It has came to our attention that Mr Vihari personally verbally abused a specific player during the Bengal Ranji game in front of everyone," the statement said. "The affected player filed an official complaint with the ACA."
The association further said the decision to remove Vihari as captain was taken by the chairman of the selection committee due to "Vihari's status as an India prospect affecting his season-long availability".*
On his part, Vihari said he had been "humiliated and embarrassed" in the aftermath of the episode, but carried on playing under Bhui as Andhra secured the second spot in Group B with three outright victories in seven matches.
"I felt embarrassed but the only reason I continued playing this season is because I respect the game and my team," he said. "Sad part is association thinks that players have to listen to whatever they say, and players are there because of them. I felt humiliated and embarrassed, but I've not expressed it until today."
Incidentally, Vihari ended the season against Madhya Pradesh, the team he had been tipped to move to and lead prior to the current season. Vihari had been in talks with Chandrakant Pandit, the Madhya Pradesh coach, and the association there over the possibility of playing as a professional, where he would been expected to shore up a strong batting line-up comprising Rajat Patidar, Venkatesh Iyer and Shubham Sharma among others.
However, that deal fell through at the last moment, the reasons for which neither party has specified. ESPNcricinfo understands that he was persuaded by ACA to stay on prior to the Duleep Trophy, where he led South Zone to the title.
Having started his career with Hyderabad, Vihari moved to Andhra in 2015-16. He then briefly returned to Hyderabad prior to the 2021-22 season before moving to Andhra again.
Vihari hasn't been part of India's Test squad since July 2022, when they played the final Test of the five-match series in England, roughly a year-and-a-half after his most famous performance for India, in Sydney.
In his 16-match Test career to date, Vihari has scored 839 runs at an average of 33.56 with his lone century coming in the West Indies.
*The story was updated with the ACA's response.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo