HYDERABAD: Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) is one of the most troubled sports bodies in the country. In the last few years, allegations ranging from nepotism to corruption have emanated from its corridors. However, players under the state body continue to surmount obstacles and perform consistently. Their latest achievement came on Monday, when they sneaked into Vijay Hazare Trophy’s quarterfinals after finishing fifth (22 points) in the combined Elite Group A and B table. They had gone past the league stage in the last season as well.
Things were far from rosy for the team, even hours before the tournament’s start. The team was cleared to participate less than 24 hours before their first scheduled match on September 19 in New Delhi. HCA’s committee of administrators had given a clean chit at the last moment, after the selection procedure had come under the scanner as usual methods had not been adhered to.
Despite getting only a few hours of sleep, Hyderabad outgunned Madhya Pradesh by seven wickets on that day. Recalling the experience, left-arm orthodox Mehdi Hasan told Express: “Our participation was in danger, but we were raring to go after the team had been cleared. “We had reached the hotel much later after midnight. But each one of us knew the responsibilities involved at this level, and we executed our plans well to win that match.”
Hasan took 13 wickets in seven matches, including a career-best 5/20 against Uttar Pradesh. Though he had been consistent in his outings last season, the infighting in the state body had threatened his participation, as he was not named in the squad list released by one of the factions.“I am a really positive person. But it felt really bad to not see my name. At the same time, I had trust in seniors like (Ambati) Rayudu bhai. I knew that they would not let anything unfair happen to me. So, I continued my practice sessions, not worrying about selections.”
The win was followed by two successive defeats and an abandoned encounter. Not one to be bogged down by impediments, the side registered four consecutive wins to stay in the race. When Baroda lost to Maharashtra on Monday, their qualification was confirmed.The team is back in the city at the moment, and will resume practice from Tuesday. A few Hyderabad players told this newspaper that the quarterfinal will be held on October 15 in Alur.
Andhra breeze past MP to enter quarters
Led by Hanuma Vihari, who joined the squad after the first India-West Indies Test finished way before schedule, Andhra thrashed Madhya Pradesh by seven wickets to finish fourth (26 points) in the combined Elite Group A and B on Monday, and entered the quarterfinals.
Sent in to bowl by MP skipper Naman Ojha, part-timer Vihari scalped three wickets to help skittle the opponents out for 155. Though Andhra lost three wickets in quick succession, in-form batsmen Ricky Bhui (56 n.o) and Bodapati Sumanth (46 n.o) ensured that they got over the line.