#INDvAUS: I was asked by BCCI curators to prepare that kind of wicket | Pune groundsman – MCA curator Salgaonkar says he is really sad he had to prepare ‘that kind of wicket’ but had no choice as he had to follow instructions
MCA curator Pandurang Salgaonkar (L), BCCI’s ground and pitch committee chief Daljit Singh (C) and India coach Anil Kumble at the centre wicket two days before the game (PTI)
The Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium's curator Pandurang Salgaonkar said he was asked by the BCCI curators to prepare the rank turner that was doled out for the first India-Australia Test in Pune.
The surface had come under severe criticism after the match ended in two-and-a-half days, with Australia inflicting a massive 333-run defeat on India on a pitch that was described on the first day by former Australian legend Shane Warne as a "Day Eight" track.
Salgaonkar said he was asked to alter the pitch against his wishes just two days before the match.
"I am really sad that I had to prepare that kind of a wicket," Salgaonkar said. "But I was asked to do so by the BCCI curators. I had to follow the instructions and do my job. That's what I did."
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) curators present to oversee the pitch for the game were BCCI pitches and grounds committee head Daljit Singh and West Zone head Dhiraj Parsana.
Confirming the notion that the team management wanted such a pitch, Salgaonkar said the BCCI curators took over the altering of the surface after meeting some members of the Indian team management.
"What took place between the BCCI curators and people in the Indian team management is their matter. The fact is I was asked to change the pitch drastically after their meeting," Salgaonkar said.
The change was drastic indeed. Two days before the start of the Test on Tuesday, there was a fair layer of grass on the surface to keep it firm together. Why, Salgaonkar, a former Maharashtra pacer, had even promised that the ball would "fly" off the deck.
Hours after that statement, though, India head coach Anil Kumble had a close look at the pitch during India's training session and then had a long conversation with Singh on the sidelines of the pitch.
By the next day, which was the match eve, the grass on the pitch was shaved off, exposing the dry pitch to bake in the Pune heat.
"I had to remove all the grass on the pitch. And if you leave the pitch without any grass for two days under the sun like that in Pune, then the pitch is bound to crumble from very early," Salgaonkar said.
Singh remained unavailable for comment despite several attempts.