Kotla Test hopes dim as Delhi board comes under Kejri lens

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 13, 2015 00:12 IST
Ferozeshah Kotla stadium. (PTI)

The Capital’s hopes of hosting the final Test of the India-South Africa series at Ferozeshah Kotla dimmed on Thursday as an inquiry was initiated into irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), the stadium’s custodian.

The Arvind Kejriwal government formed a three-member committee to probe allegations of corruption in the cricket association and asked it to submit a report by Saturday.

The probe follows a meeting former India skipper Bishan Singh Bedi and other cricketers had with chief minister Kejriwal. They pointed out irregularities in the DDCA, which has hobbled from one controversy to another.

The BCCI served an ultimatum a few days ago, directing the Delhi association to convince it by November 17 that it has all requisite government clearances to stage the fourth and final Test match at Ferozeshah Kotla, one of the country’s oldest cricket venues, from December 4. The caveat was if the DDCA fails, the venue shifts to Pune.

The DDCA owes the Delhi government around Rs 24 crore in entertainment tax. The government had refused to grant clearances without the dues being cleared.

The state unit has been under investigation by the serious fraud and investigation office. Its president, Sneh Bansal, was sacked after he failed to account for a substantial sum of money.

The DDCA is cash-strapped as the BCCI withheld grants because it didn’t submit its balance sheet for 2013-14. One of its accounts containing Rs 7 crore has been frozen because of internal squabbles.

Besides allegations of financial frauds, there were accusations of administrative lapses as the Delhi team’s build-up for the Ranji season was dubbed shambolic — vis-à-vis the selection of players and coaches.

The Kotla, infamous for its 2009 unsafe pitch fiasco that forced an ODI to be abandoned, faces issues before every international game. The DDCA doesn’t have structural certificate and it only manages to get temporary clearances from various agencies.

In October, the DDCA reneged on its commitment to stage a warm-up Twenty20 match between South Africa and a cricket Board XI. It was later played at the air force-run Palam ground.

The Kejriwal government looked set not to allow any leniency. DDCA vice-president Chetan Chauhan, a former Test batsman, on Thursday failed to meet the chief minister but was told to give in writing what kind of concessions the association wants, a source said.

Former cricketer Bedi and his colleagues launched a stinging attack on the DDCA over the way it operates. “This was bound to happen. This has been going on for so many years ... We were able to convey to him (Kejriwal) with a heavy heart that we feel the conditions prevailing in the parent body that is DDCA is not terribly conducive to organising a Test match,” Bedi said.

Former cricketer and BJP MP Kirti Azad, who had raised the issue of financial irregularities in the DDCA, alleged that the association was full of muck. “I am really very sorry that the DDCA has gone this way. There is a lot of malfeasance and I am sure it’s going to come out,” the 56-year-old said.

Cricketer Gautam Gambhir also met Kejriwal on Thursday. The Delhi Ranji skipper had a major tiff with DDCA officials after former India batsman Ajay Jadeja was appointed the coach of the team at the start of the current season. Jadeja later stepped down.

(With agency inputs)

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