The turmoil in Rajasthan cricket has resulted in fast bowler Rituraj Singh moving to Jharkhand. Rituraj had no hesitation in spelling out his reasons behind changing states, saying he felt the Rajasthan team is far from being stable or in the right mindset to tackle the 2014-15 season.
"The team hadn't been in a great shape. Even though it was confirmed that Rajasthan will feature in the domestic season, I was getting a feeling that the team was far from stable. And when a team is in such a mindset, the players may suffer, so I thought it was best to see if I could get an opportunity anywhere else," Rituraj told ESPNcricinfo, adding, "And I am glad that Jharkhand happened - I was born in Jharkhand, formerly Bihar."
As a result, while Rajasthan XI will open their one-day campaign in Nagpur on Friday, Rituraj will be training with his new team-mates in Kolkata ahead of Jharkhand's one-day opener on Sunday.
Rajasthan XI was put together courtesy a court ruling, after the BCCI had suspended the Rajasthan Cricket Association and subsequently left Rajasthan out of its domestic programme for 2014-15. The BCCI had suspended the RCA in May for electing Lalit Modi, an expelled administrator, as its president. The sequence of events resulted in much angst among the players, and eventually the filing of a writ petition. The Rajasthan High Court then passed an interim order appointing selection committees to pick teams to represent the state in various BCCI domestic tournaments, but not under the RCA banner.
Against this background, Rituraj, who has emerged one of the most promising young pace bowlers in domestic cricket over the last three years, made his move. He is not built like a fast bowler but he has displayed on numerous occasions an uncanny ability to generate pace and bounce. The highlights of his career so far were his memorable spells in the Ranji semi-final and final of in his debut season: his match figures of 12 for 80 helped Rajasthan scrape past Haryana and make it to the final, and then in the final against Tamil Nadu Rituraj emerged as Rajasthan's highest wicket-taker to help them register their second successive Ranji title in 2011-12.
RCA's issues with the BCCI aside, Rituraj had also had personal issues with Rajasthan's selectors previously. Reportedly, as a result of that, even after representing India A in New Zealand in 2012-13, he was selected for only four of Rajasthan's eight league games.
Rituraj didn't want to elaborate on the treatment meted out to him by the selectors, but confirmed that it was a factor in his decision to turn professional. "I have had some issues with the association, so I thought it would be in my interest if I look for a team where I can focus solely on cricket," he said.
The pitches in Jaipur, be it the Sawai Mansingh Stadium or the KL Saini Stadium, are conducive for fast bowlers. The conditions in Jharkhand, though, both in Ranchi and Jamshedpur, are considered to be a nightmare for the bowlers. But Rituraj isn't bothered.
"When you want to excel at the highest level, you have got to pick wickets in all conditions," he said. "And I am confident that I have it in me to come good irrespective of the conditions. I hope I can deliver for Jharkhand."
Jharkhand have had a topsy-turvy ride in the Ranji Trophy over the last few seasons. After finishing second in the Group C in 2012-13, Jharkhand were promoted to the top tier last season but were relegated to the lowest rung again after finishing at the bottom of Group A. However, the team is considered to be a better limited-overs unit, and Rituraj feels the fact that the one-day tournament will be played before the Ranji Trophy will help the team. "Let's hope we can do well and carry that confidence into the Ranji Trophy. I hope I can contribute handsomely and justify the faith Jharkhand cricket fraternity has shown in me."
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo