Apte happy that Pune pitch was clear

Abhay Apte, who suspended Pandurang Salgaonkar, with immediate effect on October 25, is relieved to learn that there were no malpractices on the Pune pitch.

The MCA Stadium pitch curator, Pandurang Salgaonkar (left), was trapped in a sting operation late last year.   -  K. Murali Kumar

The International Cricket Council (ICC), on Tuesday, gave clean chit to pitch curator Pandurang Salgaonkar who got involved in a pitch-fixing controversy ahead of an India-New Zealand ODI game at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) ground in Pune last year.

The veteran allegedly agreed to tamper with the wicket, when a group of reporters — disguised as bookies — from India Today conducted a sting operation. The ICC clarified that there was no evidence of him engaged in any corrupt activity and no charges were laid on that basis. His only punishment is a six-month backdated suspension for his failure to report the approach.

Read: ICC penalises Salgaonkar on technical count

MCA president Abhay Apte was prompt to suspend him with immediate effect on October 25. “At that point, I felt it was the right action to be taken as the president of the association. We have to show that we believe in taking steps and actions,” Apte told Sportstar.

But now he is relieved to learn that the pitch was not tampered with. “We are happy that the ICC report says there was no evidence of pitch tampering at the MCA stadium. A lot of hue and cry was made on that issue. We honour the decision.

We subjected ourselves to scrutiny in the hands of an international body and we respect the verdict ,” he added. Talking about reconsidering Salgaonkar’s employment with the association, he said, “Now we will hold a Managing Committee and take a decision.” Salgaonkar, in a press statement issued by his family, said how the incident affected him mentally. “I have been a humble servant of cricket and have served the game over the last 50 years in various capacities. For publicity and attention, undue allegations were made against me.

“This was an extreme and unnecessary allegation from India Today and has impacted me mentally. I am thankful to ICC for being non-discriminatory and conducting an extensive enquiry about the allegations and bringing true picture in-front of everyone.”

Salgaonkar also revealed the reason behind his inability to report the incident on time. “I have accepted the judgement that I have failed on reporting to the Anti-Corruption Unit. That was primarily due to the fact that my wife was in critical condition and was hospitalised one day prior to the match,” the statement added.

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