Aakash Chopra to play for Himachal in upcoming Ranji season

Last Updated: Jul 11, 2012, 16:03 PM IST

Jaipur: Former India opener Aakash Chopra, who played vital role in helping Rajasthan win the consecutive Ranji Trophy titles, has decided to join Himachal Pradesh for the upcoming domestic season.

Chopra said that he could not resist a "challenging offer" from the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA).

"The offer from Himachal Pradesh was far better and also a new challenge for me. It is a new domain and I would be their captain and mentor," Chopra told a news agency.

However, according to Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) inside sources it was the infighting and pressure from district associations which forced his exit.

"All three professionals (Chopra, Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Rashmi Ranjan Parida) were unwilling to continue playing for Rajasthan after change in RCA regime. They had reluctantly agreed and performed to help Rajasthan emerge champions again," an insider said.

"They were overlooked for the Ranji one-dayers and that also hurt them. The Sports Act has made the 33 district associations so powerful that they pressurise in all possible fields including selections. The president of RCA, C P Joshi, has no time for cricket and the rest are toeing the RCA for their vested interests," he added.

Meanwhile, Chopra said that he had the best of two seasons with the Rajasthan side and he is definitely going to miss his former team.

"Yes, I would miss Rajasthan because the previous two seasons have been like a dream run. Starting from a scratch and climbing on to two successive titles has been like a dream come true. It was the best period of my carrier and I had enjoyed playing with the Rajasthan boys. The dressing room atmosphere was fabulous and we all were like a family," he said.

Asked whether his exit would weaken the defending champions, Chopra said there were enough talented players who can shoulder the responsibility.

"I don`t feel Rajasthan would be a weaker side without me. The local boys have come up and matured, and they are piling up runs for the team. The likes of Robin Bist, Vineet Saxena and Ashok Meearia are talented and have scored close to thousand runs," he said.

Chopra rued the fact that there was nobody to back the Rajasthan boys for their good show at the domestic level.

"The Rajasthan boys have been a bit unlucky, despite outstanding performance they could not get the chance to play for country because there was no backing from the Rajasthan Cricket Association," Chopra pointed.

The 34-year-old insisted that with Anurag Thakur at the helm of HPCA, there were better chances for the players to make a move ahead.

"You need to have a person who has the power and can take decisions quickly. I feel Anurag has these capabilities," Chopra pointed.

"I am sure Anurag, with his influence, would help them play for the country at the first opportunity," said Chopra adding that he might help a few youngsters to perform well and "knock at the doors of Indian team".

Asked whether RCA had offered a fresh contract to him, the veteran cricketer said that the Association had come up with a contract for him and skipper Kanitkar.

"Rajasthan Cricket Association had offered contracts to me and skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar. I am not sure that they had done so to Rashmi Ranjan Parida and also don`t know what Kanitkar has decided," Chopra, who had amassed 615 runs in the previous Ranji season.