Kirti Azad’s reaction: Not surprised at bid to ‘sabotage’ Kotla Test match


Qaiser Mohammad Ali


Reacting to some DDCA officials’ alleged attempts to “sabotage” this month’s India-South Africa Test, held at Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla, BJP MP Kirti Azad said he was “not surprised” that such bids were made and that he would raise these instances at an appropriate forum.

“I am not surprised,” Kirti Azad, a member of the 1983 World Cup-winning Indian team, told

Azad is not surprised perhaps because he had forewarned former justice Mukul Mudgal, appointed by the Delhi High Court to conduct the match, through a detailed letter that some people might make attempts to disrupt the match played at the Ferozeshah Kotla from 3-7 December.

In his letter to Mudgal in late November, Azad had expressed his apprehension that the sabotage could be done in a variety of ways. He said people could use methods like removing screws and nut bolts of machines like Super Sopper, which is used for drying up wet ground, digging up the pitch, throwing oil on the pitch, tearing or cutting up the pitch/ground covers.

In 1999, the Ferozeshah Kotla pitch was dug up by right wing Shiv Sena activists before a Test against Pakistan.

An overview of Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi

Among the attempts that were reportedly made were the non-installation of the mandatory 30 ton air-conditioners until a few hours before the match started; mysterious repeated cutting of CCTV wires on successive nights before the game, hiding an important BCCI letter from Mudgal, delay in providing satellite uplinking facilities for live telecast, inordinate delay in providing internet facility, and disconnecting water supply etc.

A member of the official broadcaster, STAR India Ltd., said that had the ACs not been installed in the room in which heavy broadcast machines were kept the match may not have been telecast live as the machines would have collapsed to excess heat that they generate. He said that without the ACs the machines would have run only for about an hour before stopping and that would have meant that no live telecast.

Due to the delay in installation of the ACs, only two ACs of 7.5 tons could be installed instead of two ACs of 15 tons each – and six pedestal fans were kept aside for emergency. “Fortunately, the weather was cool and that came to the rescue of the machines that had to do with ACs of reduced specifications,” said the broadcast team member.

No live telecast would have meant huge monetary loss to the BCCI besides the loss of reputation, globally.

“That would have been one of the blackest days in the history of the DDCA. I mean, like many others, it would have been another black day,” said Kirti Azad. “I am not surprised [at the attempts to sabotage the match] because they are known to do things like this. They are freedom fighters; they are freeloaders. They want everything for free.”

Kirti Azad, who has been leading a crusade against corruption in the DDCA for several years, said he would raise these instances at an appropriate forum.

“I will, I will. These are very important instances. And I think even Justice Mudgal is also writing these instances in his report to the Delhi High Court,” he said.

While praising Mudgal, a retired Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Kirti Azad said that only because of the transparent methods he employed in the tendering process for the match, the DDCA “made a profit from the match”.

“We have had 56 matches before this one [India-South Africa Test], and there have been IPL games, and they all have ended in losses despite everything being done by the franchisee and you [DDCA] wouldn’t have to spend a penny. DDCA gets subvention [money from the BCCI] and yet the DDCA shows loses,” he said, referring to approximately Rs 20 crore-Rs 30 crore that the association receives from the BCCI every year.

“This time it was a Test match and it was awarded so late [by the BCCI]. But kudos to justice Mudgal for holding the match brilliantly, and for the first time, after serving subsidised foods etc., it has shown a profit,” said Kirti Azad.

The fourth and final India-South Africa Test at the Kotla was in grave danger of being relocated to Pune as the DDCA was struggling to get mandatory clearances from government agencies like MCD and Excise Department due to age-old problems that are of its own making.

Finally, like in previous years, the DDCA played its last card, which meant that it once again moved the Delhi High Court seeking a favourable order to host the match.

According to several sources, people allegedly attempted to “sabotage” the match as they were sulking at Mudgal having put in place a stringent process of awarding contracts and that had shut out all opportunities to make money.

“Many DDCA officials were sulking because Mudgal had virtually closed all the doors of the alleged ‘corruption’ through tightening of the tender process and allotment of contracts,” said one of them.

When the issues of inordinate delay in making arrangements for the match reached Mudgal, he reportedly gave an ultimatum to the concerned contractor and told him that if he tried to “sabotage” the match by not installing the ACs he would get him “blacklisted” by the BCCI as well as the DDCA.

It is learnt Mudgal would mention all these incidents of attempts to sabotage the Test match in his report to the Delhi High Court.

On December 18, the Delhi High Court again appointed Mudgal, this time to oversee all the international matches to be hosted by the DDCA till 31 March. But this time, Mudgal would be wiser from his experience and would be aware of the games some people at the DDCA are capable of playing, even it means bringing a bad name to their own association.