Pune curator suspended for pitch-fixing

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 25, 2017 15:53 hrs
ICC match referee Chris Broad inspects the pitch ahead of the second ODI between India and New Zealand at The Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune.

Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) curator Pandurang Salgaoncar has been suspended by the BCCI after he was caught in a sting operation.

Salgaoncar was caught on camera, talking to a couple of undercover reporters who posed as bookies and promised to tinker the Pune pitch. The controversy erupted just hours before the start of the second ODI and there were doubts whether the match would be underway.

However, the ICC officials gave a green signal after inspecting the pitch and the match started on time.

A television channel conducted a sting operation in which reporters posing as bookies approached the curator asking for a pitch which will favour the fast bowlers of one of the competing teams.

The curator is seen and heard on camera agreeing to the demands. "It will be done," Salgaoncar is quoted as saying by India Today.

"It is a very good pitch on which 337 runs will be chaseable. There is no doubt about it," he added.

"I told you this will be a 340-run wicket either way."

According to the BCCI and ICC rules no one - other than the officials can come inside the stadium or inspect the pitch for that matter. However, Salgaoncar and others are seen walking on the pitch.

"It's not allowed still we did it. The BCCI observer is also sitting around," Salgaoncar said.

"No stranger can access the pitch. That is the BCCI and ICC's law.

"If the BCCI and ICC ask me tomorrow I will say no one came, I don't know," he added.

As television channels splashed the sting operation visuals, the BCCI swung into action straightaway and suspended Salgaoncar with immediate effect.

"Salgaoncar has been suspended and he has been banned from entering the stadium till the report of the enquiry [is submitted]," BCCI's acting president CK Khanna told ESPNcricinfo.

"I have spoken with Maharashtra Cricket Association president Abhay Apte, who has already initiated an enquiry. The BCCI's neutral curator from Mumbai has taken charge and so I don't think there will be be any issue as far as the (conduct of the match) is concerned. Neeraj Kumar, the head of the BCCI's ACSU, has also been asked to submit his report. The Maharashtra Cricket Association has also been asked to submit a report to the BCCI."

The ICC on its part said that the allegations will be investigated.

"We are investigating the allegations from Pune this morning, as with all international cricket, the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit has an ICC ACU Manager on the ground in India and we are in close contact with him," an ICC spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo. "We are now looking to establish the facts and will make no further comment whilst this is ongoing."

MCA president Abhay Apte confirming Salgaoncar's suspension said, "The MCA will be making a detailed enquiry on what has happened or what has appeared on the television. But before we have our urgent meeting, in the capacity of the MCA president, I have taken Mr Salgaoncar under immediate suspension with immediate effect and all his work has been withdrawn."

The Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) has also taken a dim view of the matter.

"The CoA doesn't approve of such things. We will take the strictest action," CoA chief Vinod Rai said.

Salgaoncar represented Maharashtra as a fast bowler from 1971-82. He has also served as chief selector of the Maharashtra Ranji Trophy team.

Earlier this year, Salgaoncar was involved in another controversy after the pitch for the first Test between India and Australia in March was rated poor by the ICC match referee Chris Broad.

Full video of the sting operation: Courtesy: India Today

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