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Underhand deal charge against HPCA chief

Chandigarh: A former Ranji player on Friday charged the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association president of “forcing him” to opt out of the team in lieu of money.

Jaswant Rai, a left-arm spinner and middle-order batsman, alleged that HPCA chief Anurag Thakur — son of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal — forced him to make way for youngsters by promising that the Rs 50,000 loan he had taken from the benevolent fund would be “waived”.

Rai, who played 75 Ranji matches between 1985 to 2000 for Himachal said: “Anurag Thakur, due to his influence, managed to play the last match against J&K in the 2000 season even without giving trials.”

Rai, who took 150 wickets and scored 2000 runs in his Ranji career, said Thakur appointed him as the Himachal under-15 coach in 2002. “But in 2003, instead of sending me for a Level Two course at Bangalore, Thakur sent four players, including three from outside Himachal.”

The allrounder also alleged that Thakur had manipulated to get his father appointed HPCA chief patron and even changed the constitution of the body accordingly. “He inducted 25 life members on the HPCA panel after taking a bribe of Rs 25,000 from each of them,” Rai claimed.

However, Thakur dismissed Rai’s allegations as “baseless”. “Rai’s family life is troubled. Moreover he performed miserably in the 2000 and 2001 seasons,” he said.

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