With 24 wickets falling in two days, the rank turner on offer at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Gahunje has led to questions being raised about the three curators in charge of preparing the pitch.
The local curator and former Maharashtra pacer Pandurang Salgaoncar, BCCI’s chief curator Daljit Singh and head West zone curator Dhiraj Parsana all of whom were present. Two days before the Test started, Salgaoncar had announced that “ball will fly”, a theory that was rubbished by rival captain Steve Smith, who said that “ball will turn from Day 1”.
Salgaoncar’s comment were in complete contrast to what was on offer for first two days which has given rise to speculation whether local curator got a free hand or there was intervention from Daljit on Indian team’s insistence.
“Pandurang Salgaoncar is known to provide flattest of decks in Pune. If you look at Kedar Jadhav’s massive scores in Ranji Trophy, you would know. Only a month back, India and England scored 350 plus during ODIs. How come the character of the pitch changed diabolically?” questioned a former India player, who has played a lot in Pune.
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The pitch wasn’t watered during last few days and the scorching heat added to cracks that are slowly opening up.
A senior BCCI official questioned Daljit’s role. “Did Daljit get any specific instructions from Indian team management to prepare a certain kind of track? Or it was him who instructed Salgaoncar that pitch should be allowed to remain dry,” a senior BCCI official said.
“I don’t think Indian team would have wanted a pitch that would have boomeranged this bad. But Daljit has always had this fascination to leave some grass on track,” the senior official, who has known Daljit over a decade, added.
The other question that is now being asked is how come Daljit is being allowed to continue as he is pushing 80 years whereas strict guidelines have been led for administrators, selectors as well as employees. “There is Tapash Chatterjee of Rajasthan, Ashish Bhowmick of Tripura and Ankit Datta of Delhi — the younger lot of curators. Why aren’t these youngsters being given more responsibility?,” the official questioned.
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“Daljit is already 79 years old. If you can’t have national selectors above 60 years, if your administrators have to quit at 70 and employees are made to retire at 60, how come Daljit is still continuing. And if one feels that he doesn’t have a replacement, then one should question the innumerable workshop of curators that we have had over the years,” he concluded.