After Pune fiasco, Dharamsala curator tight-lipped on pitch

The Pune curator was sacked earlier this year after being accused of ‘allowing people to tamper with the pitch’. Ahead of India vs Sri Lanka ODI in Dharamsala, the groundsmen have adhered to the ICC’s instructions of not disclosing anything about the pitch and have even submitted their mobile phones too.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Dec 09, 2017 09:04 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, Dharamsala
India vs Sri Lanka,Dharamsala,ICC
The Indian cricket team will play a three-ODI series against Sri Lanka, starting December 10. The first ODI will be played in Dharamsala. ((Shyam Sharma/ HT File Photo))

Pandurang Salgaonkar, a former Maharashtra first-class player, suddenly came under spotlight during the India-New Zealand ODI series in October for all negative reasons. (INDIA vs SRI LANKA FULL COVERAGE)

A TV sting showed Salgaonkar, the chief curator of Pune’s MCA Stadium, allegedly revealing information about the ground ahead of the ODI on October 25. A suspension followed and he came under International Cricket Council (ICC) Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) investigation.

Steve Richardson and Bir Singh, two ICC ACU officials, investigated the incident and will be submitting a report. The latter is currently present in Dharamsala where India will be playing Sri Lanka in the first of a three-ODI series on Sunday.

While it is not uncommon for ICC ACU officials to be present during international matches, Singh’s involvement in the Pune pitch curator’s probe has added extra relevance to his presence in Dharamsala. And the groundsmen are feeling the heat.

(Read | Rohit Sharma betters Virat Kohli in ODIs, but task cut out as India captain)

“We always had instructions to not say anything about the pitch ahead of a match. But after the Pune incident things have got tighter. The groundsmen have submitted their mobile phones too,” a Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) official told Hindustan Times, on conditions of anonymity.

“He (Bir Singh) is the same guy who was in Pune. The groundsmen shall not say anything on the pitch ahead of the match. The instructions are clear.”

The ICC has Anti-Corruption Managers (ACMs), like Singh, present in international matches. “These experienced law enforcement professionals are present at international matches to collect information/intelligence and to ensure that the Minimum Standards are enforced at all venues,” according to ICC website.

ICC has seven ACMs, three of them from India. Apart from Singh, Dharamveer Singh Yadav and Niranjan Singh Virk are the other Two ICC ACMs from India.

(Read | ICC to discuss pollution factor after controversial India vs Sri Lanka Kotla Test)

Apart from ICC ACU, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also has an anti-corruption unit. Recently, Justice Mukul Mudgal, whose investigated the 2013 IPL fixing and betting scandal, said in an interview to Hindustan Times that BCCI ACU’s powers are limited.

“It is extremely difficult for the Anti-Corruption Unit to stop this. They cannot do anything as they don’t have the power to tap phone calls, the right of which lies with the police and they don’t have the power to nab suspects and investigate them. They need to depend entirely on the police. The only way to check fixing is to keep track of phone calls where most of these deals are struck. I’d say even the police will find it difficult. So it is impossible for ACU,” he had said.

First Published: Dec 09, 2017 09:02 IST