Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) curator, Pandurang Salgaoncar insists he was just following instructions from BCCIâÂÂÂÂpitch committee members
Virat Kohli is bowled by Steve O'Keefe in Pune on Saturday. Pic/AFP
WhetherâÂÂÂÂIndia failed to read the pitch correctly or they batted badly during the first Test against Australia in Pune is something that will be a matter of cricketing discussion for a long time to come. India came into this series as firm favourites riding on their brilliant home run in the last one and a half years. But, Australia defeated the hosts by a huge 333-run margin in the match that was over in less than three days and take a 1-0 lead in the four-match Border-Gavaskar series.
O'Keefe strikes it rich
Australia's left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe picked up 12 wickets on a track tailor-made to suit India's spin duo of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Ashwin picked up seven and Jadeja bagged five in the match but it was the southpaw from New South Wales who had the last laugh. And now fingers are being pointed at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) curator, Pandurang Salgaoncar, for preparing a dry wicket not suitable for Test cricket.
Over to BCCI
However, Salgaoncar, the former Maharashtra pacer told mid-day that it is the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) pitch committee members who are to blame for the strip in Pune and not him. "As a local curator, my job is very limited. We only work as per the instructions of the BCCI panel curators. Whatever they said, we obeyed so they should be held responsible for whatever has happened (in Pune)," Salgaoncar said over phone from Pune.
BCCI pitch-in-charge Daljit Singh and West Zone pitch-in-charge Dhiraj Parsana were in Pune well before the Test started, overseeing the pitch preparations. Salgaoncar pointed out that there was a good grass cover on the wicket but he was asked to shave it off.
"If you remove all the grass from the pitch, what will bind the wicket together? We never cut the grass, but I was instructed to do so," said Salgaoncar.
Salgaoncar, who played 63 first-class matches, added: "A local curator is just like a labourer. We have no choice but to carry out their instructions. They (BCCI panel curators) came and did whatever they wanted. After the match got over in three days, I am being blamed for the fiasco, which I don't think is right."
Former Test cricketer and Mumbai Cricket Association’s Wankhede Stadium curator Sudhir Naik defended Pune’s curator Pandurang Salgaoncar, saying that Daljit Singh and Dhiraj Parsana should take the responsibility for making a sub-standard Test wicket.
"Pandurang (Salgaoncar) can’t be at fault. Singh and Parsana instructed the Pune curators not to pour water and keep the wicket dry. Singh prepared this wicket. He is the BCCI pitch committee chief. Pandurang only acted as per instructions given to him by Singh and Parsana and these two men have to take responsibility," Naik told mid-day yesterday.
Naik also asked Singh to come clean on whose instructions he made this kind of a wicket. "If Singh has the guts he should come out in the open," Naik added.