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December 5, 2006
In a curious incident of the missing match-referee, the Delhi v Uttar Pradesh match at the Feroz Shah Kotla was abandoned on the final day. The match referee and one of the umpires were missing from the ground for close to 90 minutes even as the players waited for them to start play.
The two umpires - I Shivaram of Hyderabad and Sameer Bandekar of Mumbai - decided at 9:15 am that the light was not good for play to begin. The light improved around 11 am and the players prepared to take the field but there was no sign of the match referee, Sambran Banerjee, and umpire Bandekar.
The two coaches - Chetan Chauhan of Delhi and Rajinder Singh Hans of Uttar Pradesh - were stumped at the turn of events: "We are ready to play, but we have no idea why they (officials) are not starting," he was quoted in Hindustan Times. Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) general secretary Sneh Bansal agreed that the conditions were perfect for cricket, and was left wondering why play did not start.
The two officials reappeared at 11.45am and Bannerjee hid behind the excuse of being in the toilet. Yet, that was no way of excusing a delay of 90 minutes. The same newspaper also reported that Bandekar and Banerjee had gone to St. Stephens ground to watch a Bengal-Punjab Under-22 match. The match was then called off just after lunch, when light was not indeed good for play. "They decided to call it off at lunch," said one of the players involved, "and didn't wait a little longer to see if the light improves."
The DDCA Sports Secretary Sunil Dev was furious. "The irresponsible conduct of the two officials has denied Delhi batting practice and also robbed Aakash Chopra of the chance to complete his second century of the match," he said. "I will request the DDCA to file a complaint with the BCCI."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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