Manjot Kalra, the left-hand opening batsman from Delhi, who struck an unbeaten century in the final of India’s successful Under-19 World Cup campaign in New Zealand in 2018, has been suspended for one year from playing the Ranji Trophy, India’s premier first-class competition.
Kalra, who was in line to make his first-class debut, as a like-for-like replacement for injured senior opener Shikhar Dhawan, has been accused of age-fraud during his U16 and U19 days. The order was issued by Justice (Retired) Badr Durrez Ahmed on his final day in office as Delhi and Districts Cricket Association ombudsman. As per the sanctions, Kalra cannot play age-group cricket for two years and will have to forego this season’s Ranji Trophy.
Kalra wasn’t alone in facing the accusations, however. Delhi vice-captain Nitish Rana was also alleged to have committed the same offence, although no sanctions have been imposed on him as of yet, with more documentary evidence awaited to prove the charge. Uttar Pradesh all-rounder Shivam Mavi is also under the scanner, but his case has been referred to the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
A DDCA official expressed his surprise at the sanction and the circumstances in which they were imposed. “I find it surprising that Manjot Kalra has been punished for the same offence that Nitish Rana is also allegedly guilty of,” Vinod Tihara, the association’s general secretary, told PTI. “We couldn’t pick Manjot as it was ombudsman’s order. He passed it at 11:30 pm at night, a day before he relinquished office. Now that’s a bit bizarre.
“He has been prevented from playing club matches also. Now his parents will have to appeal for a change of order in front of new ombudsman. Till then, DDCA can’t pick him for Ranji Trophy. We are helpless.”
Rana’s case, meanwhile, is still under investigation, with the DDCA having been instructed by the ombudsman to make enquiries at the batsman’s school, DAV Centenary, in the Narela region of the northern Delhi district.
Dhawan will now be replaced by middle-order batsman Vaibhav Kandpal, while fast-bowling all-rounder Siddhant Sharma will come in place of India pacer Ishant Sharma.