Kanga League. (Representative Photo by TOI)MUMBAI: The name of Sassanian ground in Azad Maidan is etched in cricketing folklore for having witnessed the famous, record 664-run partnership between batting legend Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli in a Harris Shield game on February 24, 1988 for Shardashram Vidyamandir against St Xavier's.
However, following a Kanga League 'C' Division match between Wellington CC and New Hindu CC last Sunday, the Sassanian Ground has fallen into controversy. A clip of the participating players themselves rolling the pitch in the mid-innings break during the match, instead of the groundsman doing his job, has gone viral.
The umpires for the game were Swapnil Kotavade and Sachin Morekar. According to sources, Paresh Nakhwa, who was the match observer on the occasion, has submitted a scathing report to the Mumbai Cricket Association about the incident. "We've seen the video. If the players did this voluntarily, then there's no problem. However, if we find that they did this out of compulsion, we will conduct an inquiry," said a source in MCA.
For the record, Wellington CC won by eight wickets.
Explaining the incident, Sassanian club secretary Laxman Chavan told TOI: "I am 71. I was unwell that day, so I went home at lunch time. However, I had told our maali (groundsman) to not go anywhere during lunch. So, at lunch, when New Hindu CC had only one wicket left, our groundsman went to the nearby Khau Gali to have his lunch. I don't blame him because the poor groundsmen are unaware about these things. Anyways, the last wicket fell while he was away for his lunch, and that's when the players rolled the wicket. The maalis at nearby plots requested them to give the roller to them, but they didn't listen. It was a light roller and the way they used it wasn't proper too. I thanked the players and Wellington CC coach Rohan Bane for their gesture, which ensured that not even a single minute of the match was wasted. I gave them my blessings for doing this, and by the evening, Wellington CC won the game! The entire match took place without any glitch."
"Our ground has top-class equipment. This is the first time that I've seen an incident like this in my 50-year association with cricket. Our ground has staged the famous world record partnership between Tendulkar and Kambli. Praful Waghela and Vinit Indulkar, who have both played for Mumbai, have scored three hundreds each at the Sassanian ground. This year, our prestigious club is completing 150 years of its existence. I suspect a pre-planned conspiracy against me in this entire incident," he alleged.