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Ranji Trophy 2023/24

Explained: Allegations, counter-allegations and politics – the Hanuma Vihari Ranji Trophy controversy

Vihari disappointed with Test snub
by Wisden Staff 10 minute read

India Test discard Hanuma Vihari has alleged of being asked to resign as Andhra captain after their defeat to Bengal in their first match of Ranji Trophy 2024 for shouting at a squad member. Here is the controversy, explained.

In a long post on social media on Monday, former Andhra captain Hanuma Vihari alleged that he had been removed from captaincy after shouting at the 17th player, who he claims complained to his father, a local politician. A subsequent complaint from the father led to the Andhra Cricket Association pushing Vihari to resign. Vihari expressed his humiliation and embarrassment over the saga.

The same day, Andhra wicketkeeper-batter Kuntrapakam Prudhviraj, revealing himself as the player Vihari referred to, claimed that the allegations were “absolutely false”, concluding his statement with “play this sympathy games, however you want”.

What is Vihari’s allegation?

On a social media post, Vihari said: “We fought hard till the end but it wasn’t meant to be. Gutted to lose an another quarters with Andhra. This post is about some facts I want to put forward.”

He went on to reveal an incident that occurred during Andhra’s first fixture of the season against Bengal, played from January 5 to 8 at Visakhapatnam. Vihari stepped down from captaincy after that match.

“I was the captain in the first game against Bengal, during that game I shouted on [sic] 17th player and he complained to his dad (who is a politician), his dad in return asked the Association to take action against me.

“Although, we chased 410 against last year’s finalists Bengal 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 that player was more important than the guy who gave his body on the line last year and batted left handed, took Andhra to knock outs 5 times in the last 7 years and played for India in 16 tests.

“I felt embarrassed but the only reason I continued playing this season because I respect the game and my team. 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 out until today. I’ve decided that I’ll never play for Andhra where i lost my self respect. I love the team. I love the way we’re growing every season but association doesn’t want us to grow.”

Vihari also posted a picture of what appears to be a letter written to the president and secretary of the ACA, signed by fifteen members of the team. The letter urged the state association to reinstate him as skipper, claiming that Vihari had not approached the player aggressively, and defending the language he had used against the player.

What is Prudhviraj’s stance?

On his Instagram story, Prudhviraj – without directly naming Vihari – claimed that the allegations were all false, insisting that the team knows about it.

“Hello everyone iam [sic] that guy, you guys are searching in that comment box, what ever [sic] you guys heard is absolute false, no one is higher then game and my self respect is much more bigger then anything, personal attacks and vulger [sic] language is unacceptable in any kind of human platform.

“Everyone in team knows what has happened in that day, Nuvu inthaku minchi emmi pikkulevu (you can’t do anything more than this anyway) mr so called champion”.

Here’s a snapshot of his Instagram post:

What happened after the incident?

After being asked to resign, Vihari stepped down from Andhra captaincy, with Ricky Bhui taking over the reins. He continued to lead Andhra until their quarter-final exit at the hands of Madhya Pradesh, the same team they lost to in the semi-finals last year.

Vihari was expected to move to Madhya Pradesh ahead of the 2023/24 season, but stayed back. Having claimed that he would not play for Andhra again, Vihari may switch to MP next season.

He put up yet another post on social media on Monday evening, taking another shot at ACA [Andhra Cricket Association].

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