Lalchand Rajput, the former head of the Cricket Improvement Committee (CIC) of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), has claimed that MCA secretaries interfered in selection of Mumbai XI in SMAT 2020/21. Rajput has asserted that the secretaries ‘forced’ selectors to pick certain players in the XI.
In what comes as one of the most damning and explosive revelations in recent times, Lalchand Rajput has stated that secretaries of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) interfered with the selection of Mumbai’s starting XI in the 2020/21 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Rajput, who was recently relieved of his post after the the CIC was dissolved by MCA office-bearers, insisted that there was immense foul-play with regards to selection of Mumbai’s starting XI in the twenty-over competition and asserted that the selectors - whose hands were tied according to him - would be willing to testify about the same. The 2020/21 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy saw Mumbai finish bottom of their group, below both Andhra and Puducherry.
"The selectors are willing to testify the interference e.g., inclusion of two players in the 20 selected by senior team selectors for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021 (SMAT) after BCCI allowed 22 players due to Covid, instead of 20," Rajput said, reported Cricbuzz.
"The same two players were included in the XI in some matches of the SMAT. Also a left-arm bowler, who was not in the original 20, who was a No 11 batsman, was made to open the innings in the SMAT (sic)."
Post the SMAT 2020/21 debacle, Ramesh Powar was appointed the Mumbai coach and the appointment turned out to be successful as Mumbai lifted the Vijay Hazare Trophy, but Rajput claimed that secretaries of the association, Sanjay Naik and Shahalam Sheikh, wrongly exercised their power by initially ‘finalizing’ Amol Muzumdar as the head coach, despite not having the authority to do so.
"This was a blatant violation on the part of the secretaries to interfere in the working of the CIC," Rajput stated, speaking of the appointment of the head coach.
Rajput, who is currently the head coach of the Zimbabwe national cricket team, alleged that the CIC was dissolved as the committee hurt the ego of the MCA secretaries.
“CIC did not accept the above unconstitutional decision of the secretaries which annoyed the secretaries and as a result they decided to dissolve the CIC,” the 59-year-old alleged.