The pitch at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune has been heavily criticised by many in India who believe it aided Australia in their victory. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/ReutersAustralian Associated Press
Tuesday 28 February 2017 23.29 GMT
The Board of Control for Cricket in India BCCI could be fined almost $A20,000 for producing a “poor” pitch in Pune, where the first Test finished inside three days. The controversial wicket, which was likened to “the surface of Mars” by Shane Warne, provided plenty of assistance for spinners from both Australia and India.
Steve O’Keefe spun the visitors to a 1-0 lead in the four-Test series by claiming a haul of 12-70, the best ever match figures by a visiting spinner in India. Local media have alleged Pune curator Pandurang Salgaonkar was forced to kowtow to BCCI chief curator Daljit Singh in the lead up – an Indian Express report claims ground staff were ordered to doctor the pitch, including the use of metallic brushes to scuff up the dry deck.
Match referee Chris Broad branded the pitch “poor” in his formal report and the BCCI now has 14 days to provide a response to the International Cricket Council, which will then review the matter and has the power to issue a warning or fine of $A19,500.
A similar scenario played out in Nagpur in 2015, when South Africa were spun out on a raging turner inside three days. Match referee Jeff Crowe rated that strip as “poor”. Yet, even if the BCCI is fined the full amount, it will amount to pocket change for the world’s most powerful cricket organisation.
The expectation is the pitch for the second Test, which starts in Bangalore on Saturday, will be far flatter.
The Pune track was widely criticised by former India players, with Sunil Gavaskar, Sourav Ganguly and Harbhajan Singh all claiming it helped Australia’s cause. Australia skipper Steve Smith suggested the hosts “played into our hands” by preparing the dry deck that delivered Australia’s first Test win in India since 2004.
Chief executives from cricket boards around the world flagged the need for stricter pitch punishments earlier this month at a round of ICC meetings. “Venues and boards should be more accountable for the standard of pitches and outfields they present for international matches,” the ICC said in a statement.
However, the proposed demerit point system would punish individual venues instead of boards. In this instance, the BCCI was reportedly responsible for the pitch doctoring.