Lucknow: Indian Premier League commissioner Rajiv Shukla exuded confidence that in the days to come, players from Uttar Pradesh will dominate Indian cricket.
Speaking at a function organised by the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA) to felicitate players from the state who were a part of the Indian squad that lifted the World Cup in April this year, Shukla said that they have proved the mettle of the state at the international level.
"In view of the emergence of the cricketing talent in the state, it can be said that in days to come, they will have a dominating role in the national side," Shukla said. "There are several promising players from the state who are contributing in the teams of other states as well."
Regretting that there had been a time when, except for Gopal Sharma and Gyanendra Pandey, none of the UP players could make it to the national team, Shukla said that it was much later that players from the state made a mark at the national and international levels.
Heaping praise on Suresh Raina, Shukla said that he went on to show his class and got a chance to lead the team.
"Now he has the opportunity of also becoming regular captain," said Shukla, who is also the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs.
Shukla also requested the UP government to get the repair and other works at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur completed at the earliest, so that international matches could be held there again.
He also said that steps were being taken to promote women's cricket.
Suresh Raina, Piyush Chawla and Praveen Kumar, who were presented with cheques of Rs 4 lakh each on the occasion, thanked the UPCA and said that honours like this boosted the morale of players. Besides them, emerging fast bowler Sudip Tyagi was also presented with a cheque of Rs 1 lakh.
Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the event, Shukla said that iconic batsman Sachin Tendulkar is the most deserving person for the highest civilian award of the country - the Bharat Ratna.
"Tendulkar has toppled almost all cricketing records and even great Don Bradman has praised him," said Shukla, adding that the wizard of hockey, Dhyan Chand, should also get the honour.
On the occasion, Raina also joined the chorus of those calling for awarding the Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar.