The curator of Pune’s Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pandurang Salgaoncar, has been suspended by the BCCI after he made claims of tampering with the track in a sting operation ahead of the second ODI between India and New Zealand.
Salgaonkar even allowed the India Today reporters in disguise to take a look at the pitch, throwing the BCCI and ICC regulations out of the window.
“Pandurang Salgaonkar has been suspended from the Maharashtra Cricket Association’s curator’s post with immediate effect,” BCCI acting Secretary Amitabh Chaudhary told PTI.
“The MCA has also suspended Salgaonkar from all other positions in the association. An inquiry Commission will also be constituted by MCA. At BCCI, we reiterate that we have zero tolerance towards any corrupt activity,” he added.
“That is a decision that only the ICC match referee can take. You need evidence that the pitch has been doctored in order to call off a match. It’s match referee’s call. But in my opinion, match will go on,” he asserted.
The undercover reporters asked the curator if a couple of players’ demand for a bounce in the pitch can be met and Salgaonkar replied, “it will be done”.
He also revealed information that the pitch is going to favour batsmen and could produce 337-340 runs, which will remain chaseable for the team batting second.
Salgaoncar even allowed a self-confessed bookie to accompany him at the main match pitch. Under BCCI rules no unaccredited persons, including journalists, are allowed near the pitch.
“The BCCI Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) under Neeraj Kumar will have some answering to do. Here a random man comes, doesn’t have an all-access area pass and is taken to the main pitch by the curator,” a BCCI official said.
When asked if the ACU unit should be answerable as to how an outsider got access to the pitch, Chaudhary said, “…everyone associated with the ACU would be answerable. In any case, a very select few have access to the centre of the pitch.”
BCCI acting President C K Khanna has said that he is writing a mail to Kumar so that his team gives an update on the incident.
“It’s a pity that both former MCA President Ajay Shirke and current president Abhay Apte had helped Salgaonkar have a career after retirement. He gets Rs 65,000 salary per month from the MCA and also a BCCI pension. He is among BCCI’s independent curators. We are feeling bad for both Abhay and Ajay. Salgaonkar let them down badly,” Khanna said.
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly also expressed his shock.
“I don’t know how he can tweak the pitch in one day and prepare it accordingly for a bookie. I don’t know in what context he was saying this,” Ganguly said.
Salgaoncar, a former Maharashtra speedster, was considered a genuine India prospect in the early and mid-’70s.
He toured with the Indian team for an unofficial series against Sri Lanka back in 1974 and took 214 wickets in 63 first-class games.