Who is Pandurang Salgaonkar, Pune curator suspended for alleged ‘pitch-fixing’?
Pandurang Salgaonkar, Pune pitch curator, was sacked after being accused of agreeing to tamper pitch upon request from reporters posing as bookies on the eve of the 2nd ODI between India and New Zealandindia vs new zealand 2017 Updated: Oct 25, 2017 16:19 IST
Pandurang Salgaonkar, the 68-year-old curator and former cricketer who was suspended for his alleged role in ‘pitch-fixing’ ahead of India’s second ODI against New Zealand on Wednesday, played First-Class cricket for a decade and even came close to India cricket team selection. (India vs New Zealand, 2nd ODI - HIGHLIGHTS)
Salgaonkar played 63 First-Class matches from 1971-72 till 1981-82 for Maharashtra, claiming 214 wickets at 26.10, even getting a hundred against Baroda. He played in only five List A matches claiming four wickets. Salgaonkar is remembered for his searing pace that once forced Sunil Gavaskar to miss three Tests after being hit on his finger.
Often described as the fastest bowler in India in the 1970s, Salgaonkar, who once claimed that he was as fast as the Caribbean bowlers, carries the disappointment of never playing for India.
In the 1972 Duleep Trophy semifinal, Salgaonkar’s exploits handed West Zone a surprise win over South. According to ESPNCricinfo, after claiming five for 55 in the first innings, Salgaonkar helped West Zone bundle South for a mere 97, setting up a 10-wicket victory. In the final against Central Zone, Salgaonkar claimed 7 for 72 and 1 for 37 to help West Zone clinch the trophy with an innings and 172-run victory.
In late 1974, while representing the West Zone against the touring West Indies cricket team, Salgaonkar dismissed the likes of Roy Fredericks and Alvin Kallicharran (twice).
Salgaonkar travelled to Sri Lanka for an unofficial Test series in early 1974, and claimed seven wickets in India’s victory in the third Test after the first two ended in draws. However, after being ignored for the England tour in 1974, Salgaonkar became disheartened and never ‘made a serious bid again for the India team’, according to historian Sujit Mukherjee.
Salgaonkar went on to serve as a selector of Maharashtra’s Ranji team, and also runs a cricket academy in Pune apart from being the head curator at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Ground in Pune.
Interestingly, his assessment proved horribly wrong in Pune’s first-ever Test in February 2017. Salgaonkar had declared that the ball would ‘fly’, but Australia pacer Josh Hazlewood dismissed the remark. Salgaonkar’s dream Test debut — albeit as a curator — was marred by Australia spinner Steve O’Keefe, who claimed identical figures of 6 for 35 in the two innings to hand India a 333-run humiliation.