Pune Curator Implicated in Claims of Pitch Fixing

An Indian pitch curator has been suspended after he was caught pitch-fixing to appease Indian journalists disguised as bookies. The man in question, Pandurang Salgaonkar, is a well-credentialed cricket person, having represented India as a fast bowler in the 1970's, run his own cricket coaching academy, and worked as a chief selector of the Maharashtra Ranji Trophy Team, on top of his curating duties.

The Evidence

In a series of videos, released by India Today TV, Salgaonkar was asked by the faux-bookies to create a bouncy wicket for Wednesday’s ODI between India and New Zealand in Pune, to which he agreed.

He also allowed the journalists to inspect the pitch, something which goes against the laws created by both the ICC and the BCCI, and told them that a score of 300+ was a likely outcome.

Salgaonkar tells the reporters, whom he allegedly believes to be bookies, that the pitch ‘will garner 337 runs. And 337 will be chaseable’. There is also footage of a reporter tapping the pitch, despite Salgaonkar initially insisting that no one is allowed on it prior to the game.

The reporter claims to need help for two fast bowlers playing in the match, to which Salgaonkar states that the pitch always helps fast bowlers. Later, the journalist pushes to have one side 'favored'. Salgaoncar responds ‘that will be done good’.

The curator

In fairness to the curator, he is continually pushed by the reporters to incriminate himself. The nature of international cricket, however, particularly given the significant money involved in betting on the games, means that any individuals not willing to uphold the integrity of the sport to the fullest degree must be dealt with harshly.

It caps off a bad year for the Salgaonkar, who came under fire in February after a test match in Pune between Australia and India. The match finished within three days, with India only managing 212 runs across two innings.

What does this mean for punters?

The controversy has significant implications for punters, who will now be questioning the integrity of the matches on which they are placing their money. While the BCCI, and more broadly the ICC, both profess to have strong stances on corruption in cricket, the findings at Pune bring this into question.

Though the bookies are the means through which we, as punter, make money, they are also the means through which we can lose it. As a result, any suggestion that bookies are able to access inside knowledge is concerning.

The response

Fortunately, the response from the governing authorities has been strong, swiftly standing Salgaonkar down from his post and launching an investigation into the allegations. The ICC Anti Corruption Unit ‘has an ICC ACU Manager on the ground in India’, and the ICC are in close contact with him.

The game took place despite the problems surrounding the pitch, with match referee Chris Broad clearing the pitch for play. Ironically, the claims of Salgaonkar that the wicket would garner lots of runs turned out to be unfounded. New Zealand only managed 230 in their 50 overs, which India chased down with 4 overs to spare. The series is now tied at 1-1.

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