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Pune Curator Salgaoncar Suspended After Sting Operation

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.

Cricketnext Staff |October 25, 2017, 3:29 PM IST
Pune Curator Salgaoncar Suspended After Sting Operation

New Delhi: Pune curator Pandurang Salgaoncar has been suspended by the BCCI after he agreed to tweak the pitch as per demands of journalists posing as bookies in a sting operation conducted by India Today TV ahead of the second ODI between India and New Zealand.

Hours before the match at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Salgaoncar was seen speaking to an undercover reporter, posing as a bookie. The 68-year-old was seen agreeing to tamper with the pitch to suit the requirements put forth by the reporter.

"Pandurang Salgaoncar has been suspended from the MCA curator's post with immediate effect," BCCI acting Secretary Amitabh Chaudhary told PTI.

"The MCA has also suspended Salgaoncar 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.

The expose revealed a serious lapse in the functioning of the BCCI's anti-corruption mechanism but Chaudhary said the match must go ahead.

While there were reports that the match might not go ahead, Maharastra CA president Abhay Apte informed that the ICC had approved the pitch and the match would go ahead as per schedule.

"I am here to just make one statement because since morning there has been some news which is appearing on the television on a very disturbing subject. I have to tell that the MCA, of course the BCCI too, along with the Committee of the Administrators (CoA) have zero tolerance on such subjects, so MCA will be making a detailed enquiry on what has happened or what has appeared on television. But before we have our urgent meeting, in the capacity of the MCA President , I have taken Mr. Salgaonkar under suspension with immediate effect, and all his work has been withdrawn, including his basic membership with the MCA has been withdrawn. The ICC observer has approved the pitch, the match will start on schedule," he said before the toss.

BCCI acting president CK Khanna too made it clear that action would be taken against the curator after investigation. "The matter has come to our notice and we are looking into the details. Too early to announce quantum of punishment, but BCCI has a zero tolerance policy towards corruption and fixing and strong action will be taken if found guilty," Khanna told Cricketnext.

While another BCCI official, who didn't want to come on record said: "This is completely uncalled for and every BCCI accreditated member is well averse with the rules and regulations and about the security and entering the field of play, so such an incident should not have occurred under any circumstance. There is no way that such a lapse can be justified if it has happened. Strict action will be taken if found guilty."

What has left senior BCCI officials baffled is the fact that Salgaoncar allowed the reporter to accompany him to the main match 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 (only given to those who can enter any area) and is taken to the main pitch by the curator," a BCCI official said.

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."

Meanwhile, Vinod Rai — chairman of the COA — was stern in his views and reiterated that a detailed enquiry will be made and the matter will be taken with utmost seriousness.

"We are looking into the issue and in contact with the concerned officials. We have asked for a detailed report and will act upon it accordingly. At BCCI, we have zero tolerance towards any such activity," said Rai.

Salgaoncar, a former Maharashtra speedster, was considered a genuine India prospect in early and mid '70s. He toured with the Indian team for an unofficial series against Sri Lanka back in 1974. Sunil Gavaskar's autobiography 'Sunny Days' has a mention of him being a genuine prospect, who was unlucky not to don national colours.

The former pacer took 214 wickets in 63 first-class games.

The Pune pitch had been under the spotlight earlier as well. It had been rated poor by the ICC after an India- Australia Test match in February.

Earlier, Pune pitch curator Pandurang Salgaonkar was caught on camera talking where he revealed that the pitch will be made according to their ('bookies') demands.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and International Cricket Council (ICC) rules state that no one — other than the officials — can come inside the stadium or inspect the pitch for that matter. However, Salgaonkar even allowed them to look at the pitch ahead of the India match.

When asked that couple of players wanted some bounce on the wicket, then Salgaonkar boasted 'it will be done'. He also mentioned the fact that the wicket will be a 350+ wicket and the team batting second can also chase down the target as it will be a batting paradise.

The last time India played at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune, the ICC labelled the pitch 'poor', as the first match of the three-Test series between India and Australia had ended in the post-tea session on the third day. Spin wizard Shane Warne had famously referred to the surface as an ‘eighth day wicket’ on the first day of the match itself.

Incidentally, curator Pandurang Salgaoncar spoke to Cricketnext on Tuesday and said that he is confident of avoiding a similar fate this time as India play New Zealand in the second ODI on Wednesday.

Speaking to CricketNext, Salgaoncar had said that he is certain that the pitch will play well and there will be no reason to complain about playing conditions. “It will be a good cricket pitch and we will have a good match. I am not allowed to speak to the media and this is all I can say at this point in time,” he said.

(With PTI Inputs)

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