Amit Bhandari, who played for India in the VB tri-series of 2004 and is currently the selector of the Delhi team, was badly beaten up allegedly by goons during the under-23 selection trials that were held at the St Stephens ground in New Delhi on Monday. Bhandari was accompanied by co-selector Sukhvinder Singh. According to various reports on social media, Bhandari was attacked by henchman of the under-23 player who was not picked. Rajat Sharma, who is the president of the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association, rushed to meet Bhandari. Sharma spoke to the Delhi Police Commissioner, Amulya Patnaik and was assured of strict action.
This is not the first time such an incident had taken place in Delhi Cricket. Not long ago the junior selectors had a gun pointed at him for not favouring a cricketer for Delhi's U-16 team. Delhi’s first game in the U-23 knockout tournament is against Maharashtra on Wednesday.
“We are trying to procure all details of the incident. As far as I have come to know, it is regarding one disgruntled player, who didn’t make it to the probables list for the National U-23 tournament. The SHO from the local police station has reached the Stephen’s ground and I have personally spoken to the Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik. The guilty will not go unpunished. I promise exemplary action against whoever is found involved in this misdeed. We will register an FIR,” Sharma said.
“I was having my meal along with a colleague inside the tent and Bhandari along with other selectors and senior team coach Mithun Manhas was watching the probables play a trial match. A couple of men first came and went up to Bhandari. There were heated exchanges between Bhandari and the two men. They left and before we could gather our thoughts, suddenly some 15 men armed with hockey sticks, rods and cycle chains came charging,” Saini said.
“When the other boys attending the trials along with us rushed to save Bhandari, they started threatening us and one of them said, “Don’t get into this or else we will shoot you. They hit Bhandari with hockey sticks and rods and he sustained head injury,” the former Delhi seamer added.
Bhandari made his debut for India during the 2000 Asia Cup against Pakistan in Dhaka but had a forgettable debut, conceding 75 runs off 10 overs but he took the wickets of Abdul Razzaq and Wasim Akram. After a gap of four years, Bhandari was selected for the VB tri-series encounter against Zimbabwe at the WACA, Perth and he responded with 3/31 in 7.4 overs. The right-arm pacer did not play any games afterwards but he contributed in a big way in the domestic circuit.
Bhandari took 314 wickets in 95 First Class games in a career which started in 1997/98. In the 2000/01 season, Bhandari took 30 wickets which was his best-haul in a single edition. After he was dropped from the Delhi Ranji team in 2008, he continued to play competitive cricket until 2014.
When the Justice Mukul Mudgal committee was appointed to set in a motion the process of picking a new selection committee, Bhandari was in the list in the new selection panel. Former Test cricketer Vivek Razdan headed the men’s selection panel and a total of 22 candidates, including Bhaskar Pillai, Ashish Kapoor, Bhandari, Hitesh Sharma, Kuldeep Rawat and Vijay Dahiya were interviewed by the men’s selection panel.