x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Indian board turns down Rajasthan's pitch on unfair treatment in IPL

The Royals claimed a change of pitch was uncalled for during their loss last week to Chennai Super Kings, a team owned by the BCCI secretary.

NEW DELHI // India's cricket board has dismissed criticism by Australian spin great Shane Warne over the playing surface selected for a crunch Indian Premier League game his team lost.

Warne, captain of the Rajasthan Royals, had hinted at foul play over a decision to change the wicket for a home match against Chennai Super Kings in Jaipur earlier this week from the one used in previous games.

"It's strange for the first time in four years we were told we are to play on end wicket and it was prepared completely differently," Warne tweeted after his team crashed to a 63-run defeat.

The previous track had generally been slow and turning, which favoured Rajasthan's spin-heavy attack and helped them notch up four home victories before Monday's game.

The Chennai Super Kings franchise is owned by N Srinivasan, who is the secretary of the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The sacked former head of the IPL, Lalit Modi, suggested on Twitter that the pitch change "shows clearly how small things like a pitch selection can affect a game can be used by the powers that be. And it goes unnoticed."

Reacting to Warne's comments, the BCCI said selecting the playing surface was up to the groundsman, who is appointed by the local state cricket association, and the teams have no choice on the matter.

"The BCCI wishes to clarify that the wicket used in the match between Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals was as per the decision of the curator and the Ground and Pitches Committee," it said in a statement.

"This decision was taken in the best interests of the game. Neither of the playing teams has a choice of the wicket."

Venkat Sundaram, chairman of BCCI's Grounds and Pitches Committee, defended the change of tracks, saying the "primary objective" behind the move was to provide a good playing surface.

"The IPL is being played at the end of the Indian domestic season, and after the World Cup," said Sundaram.

"Therefore, the main pitches are bound to have wear and tear. The extreme heat has also taken its toll. Hence it becomes necessary to change the pitches in some cases, as good playing conditions will result in good cricket."

Later in the day, Rajasthan sought to put a lid on the controversy, saying they were "happy" with the playing conditions.

"We have enjoyed considerable success playing on our home ground and have developed a game plan to best suit the prevailing conditions," the franchise said in a statement.

"Whilst all pitches might vary and some suit our style better than others, RR (Rajasthan Royals) are happy with the quality of the conditions we play under in Jaipur and at all other grounds we have visited in the IPL.

"At no time have we attributed our results to the conditions of the pitch at any ground."