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India v Sri Lanka, 5th ODI, Delhi
Manjrekar: 'Delhi could be blacklisted'
December 27, 2009
Sanjay Manjrekar reviews the pitch fiasco at the Kotla
 
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Series/Tournaments: Sri Lanka tour of India
Teams: India | Sri Lanka
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Fans tear down advertising banners at the Kotla after the match was abandoned because of an unsafe pitch © AFP
 

Sanjay Manjrekar: An unfortunate end to this India-Sri Lanka one-day series where the batsmen dominated throughout the series. It was ironical that the last match was called off because the playing surface was not good enough and the batsmen were in real danger of getting hurt and the match referee took the correct decision to call off the game.

The DDCA (Delhi and Districts Cricket Association) has at least done one thing right where it apologised for the surface it provided and will refund the fans' money. I find it interesting because when I played first-class matches in the 1980s in Kotla, there used to be a curator called the Sitaram and he produced the flattest pitches you could get, to the extent that whenever we played on a flat pitch anywhere in the world, we would call it a 'Sitaram' pitch. So I find it hard to accept that the Kotla provided such a venue.

I think the matter is out of the BCCI's hands. The ICC comes into play and that is when you realise the importance of match referees who can take neutral judgements in such cases because such matters can get easily politicised and cricket can take a backseat. Now the DDCA is in real danger of being blacklisted. Twelve to 24 months is the kind of waiting period they are looking at before they can stage an international match.

The DDCA haven't had that kind of background in terms of providing low-standard pitches when you look its the long history. But when you look at the last couple of years, there have been a few incidents that should be a matter of serious concern for the DDCA. During the Champions League, when the whole world was watching, the Kotla pitches were embarrassing. The ball wasn't bouncing over the knees, That wasn't good publicity for a ground that has tremendous history as far as Indian cricket is concerned. They had a players revolt a few months back when Virender Sehwag led a revolt against some selectors who he felt weren't doing an honest job. This is the kind of publicity the DDCA doesn't need. This is the third incident in a row for them, so I think there is a genuine problem there, something that Arun Jaitley (president, DDCA) should be looking into seriously.

It is unfortunate the match finished on this note and this is something that will embarrass Indian cricket because the world is watching everything that happens here because of the status India enjoys. I hope the right decisions will be taken and the BCCI doesn't politicise the issue. Let's hope this incident is the last of its kind in India.

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar is a cricket commentator and presenter on TV. @sanjaymanjrekar


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