Pandurang Salgaonkar was dismissed by the BCCI after a “sting operation” — carried out by India Today news channel — showed him sharing pitch information.
PUNE CURATOR Pandurang Salgaonkar was dismissed by the BCCI after a “sting operation” — carried out by India Today news channel — showed him sharing pitch information on eve of the second ODI between India-New Zealand.
The 67-year-old former first class cricketer, who has been in-charge of pitch preparation at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium since its inception in 2012, was captured on camera predicting the innings total. The channel claimed their two undercover reporters were posing as bookies. Within hours of the telecast of the sting operation, that was edited, BCCI CEO Rahul Johri announced the termination of the Salgaonkar’s contract.
“A strict action has been taken against the pitch curator and the employment relationship between Mr Pandurang Salgaonkar and MCA stands terminated. The BCCI is in touch with the MCA and appropriate measures will be taken with regards to the matter. The BCCI will continue to enforce strict measures in case of such misconduct in the future.”
In the video footage that went on air a few hours before the game, Salgaonkar is heard saying “very good” when asked about the nature of the pitch. He adds, “337 hona mangta hai (337 runs would be scored).” When asked by the reporter whether he was sure, the curator says “337 would be chaseable”. Deciding to bat, New Zealand scored 230.
Wednesday’s game was the third ODI to be played at the MCA Stadium and teams batting first had crossed 300 on both previous occasions. Earlier this year, India led by a Kedar Jadhav century had chased down 351 to post a famous win against England.
The reporter is then heard asking Salgaonkar whether he could provide some “benefit” for two “fast bowlers” playing in the match. “Sir, ek chota sa kaam hai. Two players, fast bowlers, some benefit for them from the pitch in tomorrow’s game,” he says.
“New Zealand always bowl with their spinners; our pitch is always helpful to fast bowlers,” Salgaonkar responds. When the reporter reiterates his request, the curator says, “Voh dekho. Maine bola na, this is 340 run wicket either way.”
“Voh toh aapney keh diya. Uspey we will do betting but we want favours for these two fast bowlers in tomorrow’s game,” says the reporter to which Salgaonkar responds with, “Voh achi ho jayega. Bola na.” The names of the players are bleeped out on both occasions. The video ends with the reporter asking for confirmation, “Ho jayegi?” to which Salgaonkar says, “Ho jayegi.”
In another video, said to have been shot on October 23—which is two days before the match—Salgaonkar is seen talking to the reporters, who is walking on the pitch to be used for the India-New Zealand game.
Meanwhile, MCA president Abhay Apte said that all of Salgaonkar’s “work has been withdrawn”. “The MCA will be making a detailed enquiry on what has happened or what has appeared on the television,” he said. This is not the first time Salgaonkar and the Pune pitch has been in midst of controversy. In February this year, the Pune pitch for the first India-Australia Test was rated as “poor” by the ICC after the match lasted less than three days on a pitch that witnessed significant turn and bounce.
Q: We want two bowlers to benefit
Curator: This is a 340-run wicket
At one point in the sting operation, Pandurang Salgaonkar takes a long pause of almost 15 seconds. A direct favour to help out fast bowlers is asked by the stingers. Though, Salgaonkar does predict the expected innings total but he doesn’t commit to aiding the pacers. This is how it transpires.
Reporters: Sir, ek chota sa kaam hai. Two players, fast bowlers, some benefit for them from the pitch in tomorrow’s game?
Curator: New Zealand always bowl with their spinners; our pitch is always helpful to fast bowlers.
Reporters: We want the two bowlers to be benefited on the 25th October game.
Curator: Voh dekho. Maine bola na, this is 340-run wicket either way.
Reporters: Voh toh aapney keh diya. Uspey we will do betting but we want favours for these two fast bowlers in tomorrow’s game. (That you said, and we will bet on that …)
Curator: voh achi ho jayega. Bola na (it will happen well. Told you, right).
* As it turned out three wickets fell within the first seven overs to seamers in New Zealand’s innings. The 340-run prediction didn’t eventuate. Deciding to bat, New Zealand scored 230. However, past scorecards show that the MCA Stadium is known for tall scores. Wednesday’s game was the third ODI here and teams batting first had crossed 300 on both previous occasions. Earlier this year, India led by a Kedar Jadhav century had chased down 351 to post a famous win against England.