Agit Agarkar played his last Test for India in 2006 and ODI in 2007. Getty images
Controversy rocked Mumbai's Ranji Trophy Super League game against Orissa at the DRIEMS Sports Complex here on Tuesday when senior player Ajit Agarkar deserted the team and flew back home at being dropped from the playing eleven on the opening day of the four-day tie.
Agarkar, who has played 26 Tests and 191 One-dayers for India, was upset when the team management conveyed the decision to rest him on the eve of the game. The paceman had gone wicket-less in Mumbai's last Ranji game played at the Cricket Club of India when Karnataka amassed 635 for 9 wkts declared. Mumbai picked Dhaval Kulkarni and Avishkar Salvi to partner India star Zaheer Khan for the away game.
Revealing the turn of events, coach Sulakshan Kulkarni said: "He was informed in the team meeting yesterday in the presence of the full team management - coach, selector (Ravi Thakkar), captain (Wasim Jaffer) and manager (S Tigdi)." Kulkarni though refused to disclose the player's reaction.
Defending his decision to drop Agarkar, the coach said: "Salvi is bowling brilliantly. Zaheer is back and Dhaval is a regular, while Agarkar had hardly played in the last six months."
In the morning, the team bus was scheduled to leave at 7.15 and according to the team rules they wait for no one. The latecomer has to come on his own and is fined R500. "We waited for 10 minutes and then left," said manager Tigdi.
"We came to know that he had left only in the afternoon," Kulkarni said. Asked how he felt about the player's extreme reaction, Kulkarni said, "Disappointed. (But) Mumbai cricket is above everything." It is felt that the ugly situation could have been avoided had the player not been asked to come with the team.
Mumbai Cricket Association hony secretary, Nitin Dalal, said: "Agarkar had called the chief selector, Milind Rege, and me, requesting for permission to come back as his heart was not there in the game. We accepted it." Though Dalal refused to confirm it, the player is likely to be served a show cause notice.