Does Kotla face an 18-month ban?

A day after Indian cricket was left red-faced, match referee Alan Hurst, in his report to the ICC on Monday, has been very critical of the Kotla wicket.

updated: December 28, 2009 17:17 IST
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New Delhi:

A day after Indian cricket was left red-faced, match referee Alan Hurst, in his report to the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Monday, has been very critical of Delhi's Kotla wicket prepared for the fifth and final ODI between Sri Lanka and India that was abandoned. (Read: Poor Kotla pitch leads to ODI being abandoned)

The nation watched stunned as the match was abandoned on Sunday after 23.3 overs had been bowled, with guests Sri Lanka complaining that the pitch was dangerous. Irate spectators turned violent at the ground and the entire Delhi and District Cricket Association pitch committee resigned later in the day. (Watch: Fans furious over Kotla pitch fiasco)

ICC vice president Sharad Pawar has spoken out on the issue saying it's the ground and pitch that matter the most, not a fancy stadium.

There now hangs a big question mark on the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium hosting World Cup matches in 2011. The ICC has a provision to impose an 18-month ban on Kotla following the pitch fiasco, sources have said. (Read: Will take about a month to decide sanction on Delhi: ICC)

An ICC inspection team had in fact warned last month against hosting a match at the stadium because the pitch was just not up to the mark. The team visited Kotla on November 4, three days after India's ODI against Australia, and made a damning observation of the pitch in its report. "There is an ODI at this venue on December 27, 2009 and considerable improvement of the pitch block will be required by then to make the pitch provided more acceptable" the team said. (Read: We Warned DDCA about bad pitch: ICC)

In the next couple of days, the ICC will send a letter to the Board of Control for Cricket in India seeking an explanation. The BCCI will have 14 days to respond to the ICC. If ICC decides the pitch was sub-standard, penalties can range from a warning to a fine or suspension. The BCCI on its part will try its best to ensure Kotla remains a World Cup venue.

A two-member inquiry committee is also being set up to look into the fiasco. (In Pics: Kotla ODI abandoned)

In a statement on Sunday after the match was abandoned, Alan Hurst had said: "The decision to abandon the match was taken by myself, in consultation with the on-field umpires Marais Erasmus and Shavir Tarapore, and both captains as it was clear that the pitch had extremely variable bounce and was too dangerous for further play.

"Before abandoning the match, consideration was given to shifting the match to a secondary pitch. However, it was deemed impractical as the secondary pitch was not adequately prepared," Hurst said in his statement.