India vs New Zealand: Kanpur officials stifled by security after Pune pitch row
Officials supervising pitch preparations ahead of the third India vs New Zealand ODI at Kanpur are desperate for Sunday’s match to be done.india vs new zealand 2017 Updated: Oct 27, 2017 19:59 IST
Security guard Shambhu Lal (not his real name) at the Green Park stadium has been instructed not to let anyone approach the pitch for the third and final ODI between India and New Zealand on Sunday. (India vs New Zealand Full Coverage)
The guard was confused on Friday, left wondering why officials have become so strict for the first time. In the last two days, he has been allowed to move away from the pitch only to attend to his basic needs.
‘Kya log ghadda khod denge pitch par, ya mitti utha kar le jayenge?’ (What, will someone dig up the pitch or take the mud away?) he asked a Hindustan Times correspondent.
When told that Pune curator Pandurang Salgaonkar was sacked on Wednesday following a TV sting that alleged he agreed to doctor the pitch to aid reporters posing as bookies, Shambhu laughed.
“So, this is the reason for such strict vigil? I have been guarding the pitch during international matches for many years and even I can predict how this pitch is going to behave, how many runs are going to be scored,” he said.
‘Itti se baat to cricket hostel ke students bata sakte hain, wo roz yahan khelte hain (This much can be predicted even by the cricket hostel trainees as they play on this pitch regularly)” said Shambhu.
Many connected with the ground and pitch work at Green Park felt Salgaonkar could have been trapped into a fixing controversy and nothing is unlikely to be proved legally.
Hard to prove
“When there is no exchange or payment of money for the so-called predictions made by the curator on TV, you can’t say it is match-fixing. And if his predictions were correct, then how did New Zealand get out for such a low total batting first after winning the toss,” asked an official of the BCCI ground and pitch committee, preferring anonymity.
India had to chase only a target of 231 to win in Pune and level the three-match series 1-1.
“Against a seasoned man like Pandurang, such an accusation is baseless. If the incident is true then bosses of the Maharashtra Cricket Association should also be suspended as they were responsible for security near the pitch. How can anyone (outsider) contact or discuss anything about the pitch with Pandurang inside the stadium if the security was there?”
Accreditation for 2300
In Kanpur, accreditation has been issued for the game to over 2300 persons. Of them, at least 100 persons have access to the pitch, players’ pavilion, match referee, umpires etc.
“For betting or satta, punters rely mainly on the lag of a few seconds between live action and the pictures being seen on TV. It’s common practice and despite our best efforts, we can’t have control over this,” an official of the local intelligence unit told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity.
India and New Zealand look for a series-clinching win on Sunday, but the Pune incident has left the curators and ground staff praying for the match to somehow get over.