Ranji Trophy: Pitch in spotlight as curator accuses Gautam Gambhir of interference
New Delhi: Delhi team management`s lack of communication with the establishment again came into the fore on Sunday when Feroze Shah Kotla curator Venkat Sundaram accused skipper Gautam Gambhir of "interfering into his job" ahead of their Ranji Trophy final group league encounter against Karnataka from Monday.
Having played three of their home matches on a seaming Roshanara track, Delhi team had been forced to play their final game at the Kotla -- a ground which is not to their liking as they feel the wicket does not produce results. Gambhir and Co. Had relented because Roshanara, being a private club, will not be available from December 30 due to its own `New Year Bash` on the ground.
With 19 points from seven matches, Delhi are aiming for seven points for which Gambhir apparently wanted a rank-turner which will produce results against Karnataka who are already through to the knock-out stage with 32 points. On the eve of the match, BCCI`s chief curator Daljit Singh, Sundaram and DDCA vice-president Chetan Chauhan were seen to be having a discussion at the centre strip at the Kotla.
"We are doing some corrections as per chief curator`s insistence. The loose grass is being removed and we are using light roller with some sprinkling of water. We will be going with two spinners," Chauhan, who is also chairman of selectors, said. Former Delhi opener Sundaram has had his differences with the Delhi team over the past years but things have now turned from bad to worse with his differences with Gambhir coming out in the open.
"If you have to fiddle with pitches so much then you are not fit for playing Test cricket," fumed Sundaram, referring to Gambhir`s repeated insistence on getting the grass shaved off to make it a turner," Sundaram said.
"I had got three pitches ready with one on which we had grown grass. They (Delhi team management) got the grass shaved off and now they are not playing on that track. Instead, they have chosen the centre wicket. We have made it match ready," Sundaram added. Sundaram`s frustrations have increased as he said that he has not received any salary from the DDCA since September 2011.
Asked if he has spoken to Chauhan in this regard, Sundaram said, "He is also helpless as the cricketers are pressurizing him too much for the pitch of their choice". A senior member of the Delhi team management spoke about not getting a pitch of their choice. "We have learnt all our cricket playing at the Kotla but why do you think that we need to go to Roshanara these days. Doesn`t it speak about the incompetence of the curator?" the senior member questioned.
Asked about the track, he said, "It`s a result-oriented one". Left-arm spin duo of Manan Sharma and Varun Sood are supposed to play alongside pacers Ashish Nehra, Sumit Narwal. Mithun Manhas and Virender Sehwag will be expected to bowl off-breaks while rookie Javed Khan might have to wait for his first-class debut. In batting, the choice for No 3 will be between left-hander Vaibhav Rawal and talented right-hander Milind Kumar.
For Karnataka, seasoned opener Robin Uthappa has not come due to injury and the batting responsibility will have to be shouldered by youngsters like Lokesh Rahul, Kunal Kapoor, Mayank Agarwal.