The Delhi Ranji squad that touched down in Kolkata for its away game against Bengal was mired in controversy after little-known fast bowler Ankit Beniwal was added as an extra member with allegations of interference on selection matters levelled against officiating president Rakesh Bansal. Incidentally, Bansal is the younger brother of tainted former BCCI vice-president Sneh Bansal, who was removed from DDCA for round-tripping of association funds. According to senior DDCA officials as well as sources close to selection committee, both coach Bhaskar Pillay and skipper Dhruv Shorey skipped the selection meeting as they didn't want to be a part of this pick.
"Normally, Delhi pick 15 players along with two net bowlers which are from the probables list. We have Ranji pacers like Vikas Tokas and Pranshu Vijayaran, who could have travelled with squad. Instead a bowler called Ankit Beniwal, who rarely hits 110 kmph (70 mph) has been sent as net bowler for Bengal game," a senior DDCA office-bearer told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
Asked on whose insistence the player called Beniwal, who doesn't have enough wickets in DDCA league cricket get in as net bowler, the official alleged: "The Bansal brothers (Sneh and Rakesh) have been forcing Beniwal on selectors. However strangely chairman Bantoo Singh didn't object to such an outrageous move. In fact, they wanted Beniwal in the squad of 15 which will make him eligible for BCCI match fees." Several calls to both the Bansal brothers went unanswered. Delhi squad for the Bengal game features the return of left-arm seamer Pawan Suyal who had sustained groin injury during the Hyderabad game.
"It was baffling that two selectors were against Suyal's inclusion despite him being declared fit by the physio. It required a phone call from a current India player and Delhi star to have a chat with an office-bearer and ask the selectors to include Suyal."
In another strange move, all-rounder Lalit Yadav, who is an integral part of the Ranji team and also landed his maiden IPL contract for big-hitting, has been relegated to the U-23 team in order to bring back the in-form Himmat Singh in the squad. "Chairman of selectors Bantoo wants to include leg-spinner Tejas Barokha in every Ranji game but has not been successful. Knowing fully well that Eden Gardens will be a seamer-friendly wicket, why Lalit who can also bat was relegated instead of Tejas (when left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra is in the squad) is beyond comprehension," said the official, who was privy to selection committee meeting chaired by Bantoo. Calls to Bantoo went unanswered.