Chauhan 'took over' pitch preparation: Daljit to BCCI

Chairman of disbanded panel admits to errors galore

Daljit has detailed to the Board of Control for Cricket in India how his recommendations for the use of ‘rye grass’ had been partially overlooked by the Delhi and District Cricket Association, of which Chauhan was chairman of the grounds committee until Sunday, and how the strip used for the ill-fated match wasn’t adequately tested despite several glitches during the preparatory phase.

Refuting charges that he had totally overseen the preparation of the pitch, Daljit added, “I would normally go for a day or so every 15-20 days because of my various other engagements leading upto the ODI. I should not run away from my responsibilities as BCCI curator and was certainly a part of the preparations for the match under reference.   
“Chauhan ‘took over’ the preparations for the India-Australia ODI as well as the subsequent ODI against Sri Lanka,” Daljit observed. “He made all the major decisions including planting local variety of dhoob grass.”

Daljit admitted that the relaid and repaired Kotla pitch ought to have been put to test. “The pitch to be played on should have been tested by holding a local match or a practice session at least 7-10 days before the event and fine-tuned as required. No practice match was played on the re-grassed surface.

“We had planned on a bowling session at 11:00 a.m. on the 25th involving four medium-pacers and four spinners to assess the condition of various pitches and select one for the match. 

“On the 24th afternoon, while I was present at the ground, Chauhan and Vijay Bahadur Mishra, Curator, DDCA, started bowling with a white ball on the pitches in the middle.
“After a few tries, Chauhan declared that the match would be played on the same pitch on which the last ODI between India and Australia was played. He also stated that since the decision about the selected strip had been made, there would be no need to bring in the bowlers next day.”

Going technical, Daljit said when the DDCA contacted him to get some grass on the Kotla square after the India-Australia one-dayer in October, he had advised them to use winter rye grass as no other runner-type grass would grow in cold weather.

“While accepting my suggestions, DDCA authorities decided to plant local ‘dhoob’ variety along with the rye grass on the three centre pitches,” Daljit has said. “The dhoob was planted on November 7 on the centre strips using the ‘sprigging method’ entailing use of hand spades which substantially disturbed the surface.

“The winter grass was planted on the entire square of nine pitches adopting broadcast method which did not disturb the surface. 

“Thereafter, the entire square was top dressed with pitch soil. Whereas the winter grass flourished after 8-10 days, the dhoob grass did not do well at all -- a fact pointed out to DDCA authorities before starting the whole exercise.”

Daljit pointed out that the dhoob had brought in some contamination, resulting in the centre strips being affected by fungus on December 12.

“Three sprays of fungicide were required to arrest the problem, which delayed the preparation process,” he observed.

“When the grass was reduced to 6 mm height (on December 23), local workers observed that the surface underneath the centre pitches was uneven due to the disturbing of the surface by use of hand spade at the time of sprigging. Repair work was undertaken by the staff to remedy the unevenness at places.”   

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