Small-time cricketer to "Agent Arun": Pandey`s gigantic leap
New Delhi: Just after the spot-fixing scandal broke out, the BCCI working committee discussed at length about a necessary clamp down on players` agents and president N Srinivasan spoke about the need to provide accreditation to agents.
What Srinivasan overlooked is that his franchise`s captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s best friend and manager Arun Pandey`s omnipresence that managed to raise a fair number of eyebrows.
As he manages a lot of India players with the star draw being his best buddy Dhoni, a lot of cricketers and officials jokingly call him "Agent Arun".
When BCCI talks about players maintaining a distance from their agents during cricketing commitments, a small-time left-arm spinner Pandey, clad in Chennai Super Kings` practice gear was rolling his arm over at the Feroze Shah Kotla nets in 2012.
This was prior to Delhi Daredevils` IPL home game against the Chennai Super Kings. Pandey, who certainly wasn`t a part of the support staff, was seen bowling for close to 45 minutes.
Pandey came in touch with Dhoni when he played a couple of matches for Bihar in the early part of last decade. The friendship strengthened as Dhoni, who was then cutting his teeth in first-class cricket used to come to Delhi to play Hot-Weather tournaments and often stayed at Pandey`s place.
Once Dhoni became a megastar in Indian cricket, Pandey reaped the dividends in the reflected glory of the Indian captain. So much so, that he even appeared in a television commercial for a cement brand along with Dhoni and RP Singh.
When Pandey reportedly signed Dhoni for a whopping amount for his company Rhiti Sports, it instantly grabbed eyeballs as no one knew what Pandey`s locus standi was in terms of managing players and their finances.
RP Singh might have severed professional ties with Rhiti now, but those who covered the Ranji Trophy match between Uttar Pradesh and Railways at Mohan Meakin ground in Ghaziabad in 2011, saw Pandey come with a huge birthday cake at the end of the day`s play.
The cake was cut at players` makeshift dining area and it was supposed to be exclusively for the players and officials. No one questioned about what an "outsider" was doing there as the match was still on.
Pandey`s claim to fame in cricketing circles, courtesy Dhoni, has come fast but the skipper now faces some uncomfortable questions since the suspicions of conflict of interest has cropped up.