CHENNAI: Andhra Pradesh captain Hanuma Vihari, who made an unbeaten 58 in his team’s thrilling two-wicket win against Madhya Pradesh in the Vijay Hazare Trophy on Sunday, credits the victory to many of his players who are familiar with the conditions in the city, courtesy their involvement in Tamil Nadu Cricket Association’s (TNCA) league events.
“It has helped our players familiarise themselves with the conditions here, and has also improved our game,” said Vihari after the end of the clash at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Not just Vihari, his teammates like Srikar Bharat, AG Pradeep, P Vijaykumar and D Siva Kumar too have benefited from the Chennai experience.
What makes them shift to the city is that they get to play throughout the year in various TNCA tournaments. “We love the atmosphere in the city, and the people are warm. The facilities are excellent. The Chennai league has helped us hone our skills as the quality is very good,” said Srikar, Andhra’s wicketkeeper and vice-captain. “No other state or city in the country offer facilities like this. Many of us enjoy playing in Chennai.”
Another reason as to why many the state’s players chose Chennai is the opportunity of landing a permanent job. The likes of Venugopal Rao and Gnaneshwara Rao have been playing in the city for more than a decade with various teams, in particular IOB. Both play for Globe Trotters at the moment.
IOB sports officer Azeez throws an insight on why players from neighbouring states flock to Chennai. “We have many players from Kerala and Andhra in our team. They prefer banks because they get a permanent job, and not to mention the opportunity to improve their game. We pick those in their early teens so that they remain with us for at least 10-12 years.”
“Another thing that attracts them is that they can go back to their hometown after their playing days are over. KN Ananthapadmanabhan, who was working here, got a transfer back to Kerala after his playing days were over.”