Ashok Menaria has decided to move on from Rajasthan after serving the state for 15 years, and join Haryana ahead of the forthcoming domestic season.
The 32-year-old all-rounder was part of Rajasthan’s Ranji Trophy-winning squads in 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons and over the last few years, he led the State team in Ranji Trophy on several occasions. Even last season, he was the captain of the team in the Ranji Trophy.
Though Menaria remained tight-lipped on what forced him to shift allegiance, the former India U-19 captain confirmed to Sportstar that he has received a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Rajasthan Cricket Association and is looking forward to featuring in the new team.
“After the last season, Haryana Cricket Association’s director Ashwani Kumar sir got in touch with me and said that they were looking at someone like me who could strengthen the middle-order. He also told me that since the batting department is young, so if a senior comes in, the batting can revolve around him, and my experience of being in a leadership role will also be a plus,” Menaria said.
Once Menaria showed keenness, he was connected to Anirudh Choudhary, the former BCCI treasurer, who was also the manager of the India U-19 team in 2010, when Menaria was the captain.
“Anirudh sir also welcomed me to Haryana and said that my experience will come in handy, and then I decided to take up the new opportunity,” Menaria said.
The all-rounder, of course, consulted with Mahendra Sharma, the seasoned administrator from Rajasthan and Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar - two people who have played a significant role in his cricketing journey - before formally accepting the offer. “I was quite impressed with their set-up, it’s organised. I am looking forward to the new challenge and try and give my best,” Menaria said.
Menaria is the second big name to quit Rajasthan this year. Last week, India international Ravi Bishnoi quit the state team and moved to Gujarat for ‘better prospect’.
Interestingly, this season, Rajasthan will begin its Ranji Trophy campaign against Haryana and it will be an opportunity for Menaria to prove his mettle.
Once considered a bright prospect, Menaria had a significant contribution in Rajasthan’s maiden Ranji Trophy title win in the 2010-11 season, where he scored successive centuries in the quarterfinals, semifinals and the final.
Riding on his heroics, Rajasthan defeated heavyweights Tamil Nadu and Mumbai, before beating Baroda in the final. His consistent performance was lauded by former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, who believed that young guns like Menaria and Robin Bist should be given more opportunities.
In 2011, he was roped in by Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and played for the next few seasons. In the first season, the Udaipur-based Menaria caught the attention of the cricketing fraternity by scalping the prized wicket of Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar.
Despite making it to the India A teams, the seasoned campaigner, who has featured in 88 first-class, 102 List A and 72 T20s, failed to break into the senior team. However, his contribution to Rajasthan cricket has been significant and his departure would certainly be a blow for the two-time champion side ahead of yet another season.
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