Deepak Hooda has decided to quit Baroda and is set to join Rajasthan, ahead of the upcoming Indian domestic season.
The all-rounder, who features in the Indian Premier League for Punjab Kings, has already obtained a No Objection Certificate from Baroda Cricket Association.
“It is definitely a sad feeling to quit Baroda, for whom I have played throughout my career. But I spoke to my coaches, well-wishers and thought this was the right decision for me,” Hooda told Sportstar.
The cricketer was suspended by the Baroda Cricket Association for leaving the bio-bubble on the eve of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, following a spat with captain Krunal Pandya. However, he was allowed to play the IPL for Kings.
Having debuted for Baroda in 2013, Hooda has featured in 46 first-class and 68 List-A matches, along with 131 T20s. In 2017, he was also named in the India squad for the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka, even though he had to warm the bench.
One of the talented middle-order batsmen, Hooda had accused Krunal of abusing him on the eve of the Mushtaq Ali Trophy. However, soon after the incident, the Baroda Cricket Association suspended Hooda.
Speaking to Sportstar, BCA secretary Ajit Lele confirmed that the association has issued an NOC to Hooda. “We issued the NOC to him on Wednesday. It is unfortunate that he had to leave Baroda. I think the whole issue (of Hooda and Krunal) could have been handled in a more pragmatic way,” Lele said.
Former India international and one of Baroda’s erstwhile captains, Irfan Pathan, too expressed his displeasure on the whole issue. “How many cricket associations will lose out on a player who is in the Indian team probables list? Deepak Hooda leaving Baroda cricket is a huge loss. He could have easily given his services for another 10 years as he is still young. As a Barodian, it’s utterly disappointing,” Pathan said.
While sources in the Rajasthan Cricket Association confirmed Hooda’s inclusion, an official statement is awaited. Rajasthan recently parted ways with its assistant coach Dishant Yagnik and handed over the role of head coach to former cricketer Nikhil Doru.
Rajasthan won two consecutive Ranji Trophy titles – in 2010-11 and 2011-12. A title has eluded the side ever since.