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NEW DELHI: Just hours before the start of the second ODI between India and New Zealand to be played today at Pune’s Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, the ground’s head curator has been caught on camera suggesting to reporters of an English news channel – who were disguised as bookies – offering to doctor the pitch according to their demands.
Former domestic fast bowler and Maharashtra Ranji Trophy selector Pandurang Salgaonkar, in the sting operation conducted by the news channel, can be seen and heard allowing the reporters access to the Pune pitch, which is a violation of the laws as set by cricket’s governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Later in the video, Salgaonkar, seated in a car, is shown saying that the pitch he has prepared will be a high scoring one. “Very good (pitch), I think this will be a 337 kind of pitch, for sure. And this 337 will be chase-able.” On being asked whether he is taking about the same pitch that was shown to them a day before, Salgaonkar replied that it was the same strip.
In the video, Salgaonkar is seen telling the reporters that even though he is not allowed to let anyone inspect the pitch, he did it even with the BCCI curator around. He goes on to say that even if someone asks whether anyone was allowed on to the pitch, he would deny it.
The news channel contacted Abhay Apte, the Maharastra Cricket Association president, and he stated that the matter will be looked into and that if anyone is found guilty, strict action will be taken.
Incidentally, earlier this year in February, the pitch in question was rated ‘poor’ by ICC match referee Chris Board after the first Test between India and Australia. Australia had won the Test, beating India by 333 runs.
Salgaonkar is a former fast bowler bowler who 63 first-class matches taking 214 wickets at 26.70 and in five List A games he took 4 wickets. He has also served as chief selector of the Maharashtra Ranji Trophy team.