Kanitkar eyes ODI championship and IPL

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Mona Parthsarathi

New Delhi, Jan 16 (PTI) After leading Rajasthan to afairytale first ever Ranji triumph, captain HrishikeshKanitkar now wants to make his presence felt in his debutseason of IPL 4.

However, his priority is to lead his team to victory inthe Ranji ODI championship and Duleep trophy before playing inthe twenty20 tournament.

Giant-killers Rajasthan, who had qualified through platedivision, notched up their maiden Ranji trophy title afterdefeating hosts Baroda on the basis of their first inningslead in the finals yesterday.

"We still can''t believe that we are the champions. Thisis the result of team efforts and I am extremely happy to leadthis talented bunch of players," Kanitkar told PTI fromVadodara.

"Frankly, we never thought of winning the title and ouraim was to secure a place in elite division. After winning thesemifinal against Maharashtra, we were desperate to win thetrophy. All my players have contributed in the win," said the36-year-old who had played two test and 34 ODIs for Indiaduring 1999 to 2000.

He is also going to make a debut in cash rich IndianPremier League for the team Kochi this year.

"IPL is an important platform and I am excited to be apart of it. I hope to make my presence felt in the firstseason itself but before that my focus is on Ranji ODI matchesand Duleep trophy," said the batsman who had scored 744 runsincluding four centuries in this Ranji season.

His name will forever be linked with his winning boundaryoff Saqlain Mushtaq in fading light in India''s memorablevictory over Pakistan at Dhaka in January 1998 when the teamchased a 300 plus target in the Independence Cup final.

He could never consolidate his position in the Indianteam but still hopeful of making a comeback.

"My job is to perform well on the ground and I am doingthat. Rest is upto the selectors," he said.

He also admitted that leaving Madhya Pradesh was a toughdecision for him but said he is more than happy to play forRajasthan in the Ranji Trophy.

"It was a tough call to leave Madhya Pradesh team but Icould not ignore the offer to lead such a talented Rajasthanteam. I am happy with my decision," said Kanitkar.

He also singled out debutante fast bowler Deepak Chahar,Pankaj Singh and all rounder Ashok Maneria for special praiseand said they are the future of Indian Cricket.

"They are very talented players and have the potential toexcel at international level," he said.

Chahar and Singh have taken 40 and 43 wickets in ninematches respectively, while Maneria has scored 373 runs in 3matches.

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