Sidana Walks
Figurative depiction

During a meeting on Wednesday for the senior selection committee of the Delhi Cricket Association to choose the Delhi Under-25 team, Sidana walked out without signing the roster.

After a disagreement with the chairman of selectors Gagan Khoda and the secretary Siddharth Sahib Singh, the senior and U-25 men’s selector Mayank Sidana walked out of a selection meeting, putting the Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) back in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. Not only that, but the decision to have specialist middle-order batter Ayush Badoni open on his Ranji Trophy debut against a domestic doyen like Jaydev Unadkat on a moist surface is also being scrutinized, as it was made by Delhi head coach Abhay Sharma.

As per BCCI regulations, only 15 players are permitted in the dressing room at any given time, thus Vaibhav Sharma and Salil Malhotra, two specialist openers, are currently waiting it out in the team hotel.

Even though Jaydev Unadkat took 8/39, including a record first-over hat-trick, the senior Delhi squad only managed to score 133 against Saurashtra in Rajkot.

In response to charges that Sidana was attempting to “promote dubious candidates” for the U-25 team that will compete in the CK Nayudu Trophy, former national selector Khoda and secretary Verma, who was also a former first-class player, made their own accusations.

On Wednesday, the senior selection committee of the DDCA met to choose the Delhi U-25 team, but Sidana stormed out before signing the roster sheet.

To be honest, I took issue with several of the choices made by chairman Gagan Khoda and another selector Anil Bhardwaj. There was no one who would listen to my concerns, not even secretary Siddharth Verma. Then I left without signing the team sheet. Sidana, who has played 30 first-class games, 33 List A games, and 22 T20 games for Punjab, told PTI that the team records all of their games.

Sidana added, “Mr. Khoda didn’t attend any of the U-25 trial games, and the other selector, Mr. Bhardwaj, only wants one player, Vikas Solanki, on the team.”

They persisted in basing their decision on the results of the trial games, despite my argument that he hasn’t done well when given a chance in BCCI (U-25) competitions in the past. No, I won’t back dishonest methods. Khoda, who had a brief ODI career for India in 1998, was understandably irritated when challenged about Sidana’s claims.

I’ve been a national cricket selector and player for long enough. I’d rather not bring shame on myself by responding to Sidana’s accusations. Nothing else will come out of my mouth. Khoda answered, “You may go and ask him why he walked out of the meeting.

When questioned why Badoni opened on such a challenging track, Khoda couldn’t provide a satisfactory explanation despite having sent two opener specialists who aren’t even in the 15-man squad.

“Hey, listen, we pick a squad and the coach chooses the starting eleven. “We don’t meddle,” Khoda emphasized.

Secretary Verma from the DDCA claimed there were no mistakes in the voting process.

Gagan Vats was a player whom Mayank Sidana was interested in. We have score sheets to prove that Solanki scored more points in exhibition games than the Vats. Verma, son of late Delhi CM Sahib Singh Verma and younger brother of BJP MP Pravesh Verma, stated, “It was really regrettable that he didn’t sign the squad sheet.”

Another charge leveled against Verma is that he physically barred Pankaj Singh, the coach of the Indian Under-25 team and a former pacer for the national team, from participating in the selection meeting.

He couldn’t physically participate in the meeting since the secretary hadn’t given her permission for him to do so. A DDCA official spoke to PTI under the condition of anonymity and said, “This is despite the fact that as a coach, his inputs were important.”

Ranji Trophy veteran and current Railways player Verma justified the decision.

He remarked, “We patched a call with Pankaj and asked for his thoughts.”

As for the Ranji team’s head coach’s poor decisions, the DDCA secretary had nothing to say.

Considering that both Vaibhav and Salil have started for Delhi at the Under-19 and Under-25 levels, they should not be waiting in the team hotel. Himmat Singh was vice-captain of the India Emerging squad up till the last game; why was he benched? To what end are Delhi’s two designated bowlers being rested? There are far too many unanswered questions.

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