Special Correspondent

Wellington: What was intended as a spot of fun — and had become an opportunity for Sachin Tendulkar and Dinesh Karthik to bat in a (semi)competitive match for the first time this tour — turned slightly sour on Friday.

Tendulkar and Karthik, who had been allowed by the Indian team management to play in the International Masters Match between New Zealand and Australia, were withdrawn on the morning of the game because of concerns over the involvement of Hamish Marshall.

The point of contention: Marshall had played for the Royal Bengal Tigers in the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL). It’s another matter that Marshall’s ICL contract had run its course; he is no longer with the ICL.

Heath Mills, chief executive, New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association (NZCPA), said the BCCI’s decision to withdraw the players was poor and disappointing.

“During the week we had made the offer to the (Indian) management,” said Mills.

“The team management seemed really keen with the idea. Then, we woke up this morning with news that the BCCI did not want the two Indians to play in the match because Hamish Marshall was playing.

“As you would know, Marshall was an ICL player. However, his contract finished with the ICL last year so we did not think there would be any problem.”

Added Mills: “To be honest we were really disappointed with the position of the BCCI. It just seems a bit silly to me. I can’t see how this can be good for the game, I see this as a poor decision.” Mills expressed surprise that the decision to withdraw the players was taken late by the Indian board despite the fact that the composition of the teams was public knowledge for some time now.

“The Australia and New Zealand Masters teams have been selected for a week-and-a-half for now,” said Mills.

“Obviously something happened last night with someone who didn’t like the fact that Hamish Marshall was playing.”

Resolve dispute

Mills hoped the dispute between the ICL and the BCCI (and by extension the ICC) could be resolved.

“I understand the position of the BCCI but down here we have got Shane Bond, Lou Vincent, Andre Adams who can’t play because of their allegiance to ICL.

“I just hope they are mindful of the impact on countries like New Zealand. I am sure there is a solution,” he added.

Indian team manager Niranjan Shah declined to comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, Marshall, in a neat twist, guided the New Zealand Masters to victory with an unbeaten half-century.

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