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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Pune Curator Pandurang Salgaoncar dismissed for malpractice !!

In Feb 2017, I had posted an article on him based on ESPN report, the man is in news today for wrong reasons !!

Pune situated 560 metres (1,837 feet) above sea level on the Deccan plateau on the right bank of the Mutha river, is the administrative headquarters of Pune district and was once the centre of power of the Maratha Empire established by Shivaji. In the 18th century, Pune was the political centre of the Indian subcontinent, as the seat of the Peshwas who were the prime ministers of the Maratha Empire.


Gutkha baron Rasiklal Manikchand hariwal  (80) died on Tuesday night in Pune. He was suffering from throat cancer. He was facing trial under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA) in a 2004 case registered in Mumbai.  New Zealand won the first ODI at the Wankhede Stadium courtesy their preparedness against India's spinners, and the success of a key tactical move - swapping the batting positions of Colin Munro and Tom Latham. Three days later, following a trip down the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, India turned the tables with their own counter-tactics, on a pitch with just enough grass on it to allow their fast bowlers to bowl a traditional good length.  Bhuvneshwar Kumar finished with three wickets and Jasprit Bumrah with two, the pair conceding only 83 in their 20 overs as New Zealand set India a target of 231 to level the series. The chase proved straightforward, with Shikhar Dhawanand Dinesh Karthik scoring half-centuries to lead India home with four overs remaining.

In a serious note, the BCCI has "dismissed" Pandurang Salgaoncar, the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) curator, for "malpractice" that was captured on camera by undercover reporters. The controversy did not affect the start of the second ODI between India and New Zealand, which began as scheduled after a routine pre-match pitch inspection by ICC match officials. Ramesh Mhamunkar, a member of the BCCI's grounds and pitches committee, was put in charge of the pitch. The nature of what the BCCI called "malpractice" emerged in a sting operation video carried out by reporters from India Today TV. In the released footage, which has been edited, Salgaoncar is shown interacting with the reporters and talking to them about the pitch for the ODI - the voiceover says the reporters are posing as bookies though the released footage does not show them introducing themselves to Salgaoncar as such.

The conversations in the released video are centred on the pitch. Shot over Monday and Tuesday, Salgaoncar said in the video that the pitch - No. 8 of the 15 strips - would have runs. "It is very good. It will garner 337 runs. And 337 will be chaseable." The ground is a new one and before Wednesday's game had only hosted two ODIs. First innings scores in those two were 304-8 and 350-7 (an average of 327); the latter score was chased down. In a different clip, at the stadium, Salgaoncar alerts the reporters to the presence of Mhamunkar at the ground. He tells them that as per regulations no outsider is allowed to be at the pitch. Nonetheless one of the reporters is shown tapping a pitch. In another exchange, in a car, the reporter asks whether two fast bowlers could be given some help from the match's pitch. Salgaoncar replies that the pitch always helps fast bowlers.

In response to the video, BCCI immediately "dismissed" Salgaoncar. As the incident concerns an international match the ICC will also be involved. "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. Salgaoncar, a long-time curator and former fast bowler, was involved in another pitch controversy earlier this year, after the surface for the first Test between India and Australia in March was rated poor by the ICC match referee Chris Broad.

In feb 2017  ESPN Cricinfo had an interesting article that  this man would make debut at 67 !  - it was about Pandurang Salgaoncar, who made  Test debut as a curator. Those who have watched Salgaoncar, (67 now), bowl in the 1970s swear by his pace. Salgaoncar himself never tires of telling you how he made batsmen run away in fear. He once hit Sunil Gavaskar on the hand, forcing him to miss the next Test. That was enough to spread the word in the whole country but the selectors. He came close to playing for India on three occasions, all in the two years leading to first World Cup.

In Nov. 1972, in the  Duleep Trophy semi-final between South and West Zone in mid-November featured many of the stars of those recent Test victories. Farokh Engineer (by then a rarity on the domestic circuit, as he lived most of the year in Lancashire) was West Zone's keeper. More  enticingly, Nawab Mansur Ali Khan of Pataudi was returning to cricket after a self-imposed exile from the game. He joined Gundappa Viswanath  in the middle order of South Zone's batting line-up. Still others (Ramnath Parkar and Michael Dalvi, for instance) were knocking on Test cricket's doors.

In those days, Chepauk was a square turner of a pitch, where nearly all the wickets accrued to spinners and most matches were low-scoring thrillers.  In South's first innings, Salgaoncar finished with 5 for 55 off about 18 overs, but it was in the second innings that he really lit up the place. When South began their second innings 83 runs in arrears, a draw loomed as the most likely outcome. As the shocked Chepauk crowd dispersed, our partisan disappointment at losing the match was greatly tempered by the thought that maybe, just maybe, we had finally unearthed a genuine fast bowler.  Yet barely 38 overs later (17 of which were bowled by Salgaoncar), South had been skittled for 97 runs and West won the match outright by ten wickets shortly after tea. Salgaoncar ran through South's line-up like a freight train crashing through a picket fence, timber flying all over the place. He picked up another five-for, this time for 56 runs, to make it ten for the match.

Less than a week later, Salgaoncar was at it again. In the Duleep final he grabbed 7 for 72 in the first innings as Central Zone careened to an innings defeat.  Yet, he could not break into the Indian team.  Month later,  India's new-ball "attack" plumbed the depths by the third Test, at Chepauk, when Eknath Solkar and Sunil Gavaskar took the shining cherry in the first innings, and (dispensing any pretense at all) Bishan Bedi joined Solkar to open the bowling in the second.
Though Salgaoncar was strongly tipped to catch the flight to England as India's tour got underway in May of 1974, he again, inexplicably, did not make the cut. In fact, Salgaoncar never played for India. Salgaoncar went to Sri Lanka to play unofficial Tests in 1974, and fondly remembers a match in which he bowled 24 overs out of 55.4 to help enforce a follow-on. He then bowled 38 overs in the follow-on. In 1975, Salgaoncar says, he bowled 12 overs for 11 runs in a trial match for World Cup team selection, but wasn't chosen.

He missed playing for India, but people now would rue for allowing him to be around the playing arena.  Sad

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
25th Oct 2017.


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