New Delhi: After leading Rajasthan to a fairytale first ever Ranji triumph, captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar now wants to make his presence felt in his debut season of IPL 4.
However, his priority is to lead his team to victory in the Ranji ODI championship and Duleep trophy before playing in the twenty20 tournament.
Giant-killers Rajasthan, who had qualified through plate division, notched up their maiden Ranji trophy title after defeating hosts Baroda on the basis of their first innings lead in the finals on Saturday.
"We still can't believe that we are the champions. This is the result of team efforts and I am extremely happy to lead this talented bunch of players," Kanitkar told PTI from Vadodara.
"Frankly, we never thought of winning the title and our aim was to secure a place in elite division. After winning the semifinal against Maharashtra, we were desperate to win the trophy. All my players have contributed in the win," said the 36-year-old who had played two test and 34 ODIs for India during 1999 to 2000.
He is also going to make a debut in cash rich Indian Premier League for the team Kochi this year.
"IPL is an important platform and I am excited to be a part of it. I hope to make my presence felt in the first season itself but before that my focus is on Ranji ODI matches and Duleep trophy," said the batsman who had scored 744 runs including four centuries in this Ranji season.
His name will forever be linked with his winning boundary off Saqlain Mushtaq in fading light in India's memorable victory over Pakistan at Dhaka in January 1998 when the team chased a 300 plus target in the Independence Cup final.
He could never consolidate his position in the Indian team but still hopeful of making a comeback.
"My job is to perform well on the ground and I am doing that. Rest is upto the selectors," he said.
He also admitted that leaving Madhya Pradesh was a tough decision for him but said he is more than happy to play for Rajasthan in the Ranji Trophy.
"It was a tough call to leave Madhya Pradesh team but I could not ignore the offer to lead such a talented Rajasthan team. 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 praise and said they are the future of Indian Cricket.
"They are very talented players and have the potential to excel at international level," he said.
Chahar and Singh have taken 40 and 43 wickets in nine matches respectively, while Maneria has scored 373 runs in 3 matches.