Pandurang Salgaonkar, former Maharashtra cricketer and pitch curator of the international stadium on the outskirts of Pune, has been in the eye of a storm for than one reason in the last couple of years. But he will get another opportunity to put all those controversies behind him by preparing a sporting wicket for the second Test between India and South Africa starting Thursday.
The 69-year-old curator first came under the scanner when the pitch for the opening Test between India and Australia back in 2017 was rated poor by the International Cricket Council. Batsmen struggled and spinners took 31 wickets between them in what was the first Test match at the ground, which ended in three days.
To make matters worse, Salgaonkar was suspended by the ICC for six months later that year after being caught in a sting operation related to pitch fixing. The controversy arose when television channel India Today caught Salgaonkar on tape in October 2017 over alleged pitch fixing ahead of a One Day International against New Zealand.
Though the ICC gave him a clean chit on allegations (which were levelled by a national news channel) of trying to doctor the pitch for last year’s ODI against New Zealand, he was charged for not informing the Anti-Corruption Unit about the alleged approach.
He resumed as pitch curator soon after the suspension period ended and is now back at the helm for another Test match.
“As far as I know, only I’m looking after the Gahunje wicket for the South Africa Test,” Salgaonkar was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
“I won’t be talking to the media about the pitch or anything before or during the Test match. Everything is perfect at the ground. There are no problems whatsoever due to rains,” he added.
The first Test of the ongoing series was an eventful one, despite the heavy loss for South Africa. Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock’s fighting tons showed that the Proteas could challenge the hosts despite the challenging conditions.