It was reminiscent of Eden Gardens in 1996. The Kolkata crowds had forced the abandonment of the World Cup semifinal against Sri Lanka on that occasion. Nineteen years on, the fans at the Barabati Stadium tried to do the same in a T20 International. The match was halted twice during South Africa’s run chase. First, when they were 64 for three after 11 overs. Bottles were flung into the ground, forcing a stoppage of 19 minutes. The match resumed but had to be stopped after two overs and this time, umpires CK Nandan and C Shamshuddin decided to take the players off the field.
It looked like the game would be called off. But the cops and Orissa Cricket Association officials got into the action and eventually the match resumed again after 27 minutes. India and South Africa are unlikely to make official complaints, but match referee Chris Broad is expected to mention the incident in his report.
They’ve nets installed here in front of the stands and it helped. Otherwise, the way crowd reacted, it could have been serious threat to players’ safety.
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MS Dhoni, however, tried to play down the issue. “Frankly I don’t think it was a very serious threat. There were some people who threw the bottles inside the ground. When we do not play well at times you get such a reaction. We should not read too much into it. A section of the fans started this after our innings. Later, other sections also joined in the fun. I still remember once we had won a match in Vizag and still bottles were thrown,” said the India captain.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis described the incident as disappointing. “It’s not nice to see it. I’ve played five-six years of cricket in India, and I’ve never seen that. So, you don’t want that to be a part of the game. You come here to compete, and the best team walks away winning. To have that happening, I don’t think it’s a good thing. It shouldn’t happen. Even the way the game was played towards the end, it lost its intensity because obviously India thought that we’ve already won as we needed only 20 runs. Disappointing in that sense, and hopefully it’s the first and the last time we see it on this tour,” he said.