Till Wednesday, Ankeet Bawne’s Facebook wall was flooded with congratulatory messages. After all, the teenager had made rapid strides to become India U-19 captain for next week’s quadrangular cricket tournament, barely four years after shifting to Pune from his village in Aurangabad district.
However, after being axed from the team for a “discrepancy” over his date of birth on Wednesday, don't be surprised if the messages praising him are replaced with those condemning Bawne or commiserating with him. After it was noticed the prolific middle order batsman's age in his passport was one year more than what was on his birth certificate, the BCCI decided to replace him with Karnataka's Shreyas Gopal in the squad for the series, also featuring Australia, West Indies and Sri Lanka, starting in Visakhapatnam on Sept 27."A discrepancy has been discovered in his date of birth, as mentioned in the BCCI’s database, and his passport. He has, therefore, been left out of the squad," Sanjay Jagdale, the BCCI secretary, said in a statement. "The selection committee has named (Delhi's) Unmukt Chand as captain."
It was due to the Maharashtra Cricket Association's (MCA's) promptness that the BCCI swung into action. Even though there was no need to check the players' passport for the series, the MCA still asked both its players— Bawne and Mohsin Sayyad — since their exposure tours ahead of next year's U-19 World Cup in Australia would soon begin.
“Since both of them hail from rural areas we thought it was important to check if their documents were in place. And when it was found out that the date of Bawne's passport was different than that in the association records, it was immediately conveyed to the BCCI,” an MCA official told HT.
While the date of birth of Bawne, who already has scored a first-class century, in the BCCI records is December 17, 1992, on his passport it is December 17, 1991. A player born before September 1, 1992 is not eligible for the U-19 World Cup.
The player has pleaded innocence, blaming an error by the passport officials. “His bone scan report is in sync with his birth certificate. Even though we believe his version that the passport office has made a mistake and he didn't notice when it was issued to him, it's very difficult to get it rectified now."
For the moment, the BCCI junior selectors have been asked not to select him throughout the season.