Play was held up for more than 50 minutes during the third Twenty20 International match between India and South Africa at
Cuttack's Barabati Stadium last evening as angry specatators, in disgraceful show of poor sportsmanship, threw a volley of water bottles on the field to protest the home team's poor performance, according to reports.
ESPN reported that the first bottle-throwing incident came in the break between innings, after India was bowled out for 92. It did not stop play. As South Africa began to chase, a second wave of bottles hit the ground and stopped play for 27 minutes. Play resumed at 10 pm, after security guards were posted at the boundaries. The third wave of bottles hit the ground again and after a 24-minute delay, play once again resumed after the police was forced to clear the crowd.
South Africa outplayed India by 6 wickets to clinch the three-match series, reported PTI. Put to bat, India were bundled for a paltry 92 in just 17.2 overs, to record their second-lowest total in T20I. Their lowest was 74 against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in February 2008.
As India collapsed, fans vented their fury by throwing water bottles from the two-levels gallery three and four as it continued unabated in the innings break.
"If you don't throw valuables when India wins a match, you have NO right to throw rubbish when India loses" - Sir Sunil Gavaskar, epic!— Trendulkar (@Trendulkar) October 5, 2015
The spectators at the ground continued to throw bottles during the South African chase but could only delay the inevitable as Proteas cruised to a win with 17 balls to spare. The crowd did not respond to repeated requests on the public system to keep calm putting a question mark on future cricket matches in the city.
The behaviour also tarnished India's image at the cricket venue. South African captain Faf du Plessis condemned the crowd behaviour.
"It's not nice to see that. I've played five-six years of cricket in India. To have that happening, I don't think it's nice for cricket. It should not have happened and I just hope this is the first and last time in the tour.
"All around the world, people are passionate and about their team and country. I've witnessed this first time in India. It's definitely to do with the passion. It was just a bad day in office," said the winning captain.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni though downplayed the incident.
"When it comes to the safety of the players, I don't think there was any serious threat. A few of the powerful people in the crowd where throwing the bottles into the ground and the umpires felt it was safe to stay in the centre or go off the ground. We didn't play well and at times you get reactions like these.
"Its only the first few bottles that are hurled with serious intent, after that they just do it for fun. We shouldn't be taking such things seriously. I still remember we play in Vizag once and we won the game very easily and that time also a lot of bottles were thrown. It starts with the first bottle and then its more of a fun for the spectators," he said.
Dark irony. India-SA tourney called Mandela-Gandhi series. Both peace icons symbols of non-violence will be disgusted pic.twitter.com/WIMWDK2TQO— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) October 5, 2015
As the play remained stopped, police officials were pressed into action to vacate the troubled galleries, especially the upper tiers from where most of the bottles kept flying in.
It brought to mind the memories of Eden Gardens in the Asian Test Championship, 1999 when Pakistan won the match in front of empty galleries.
Beware Team India. The crowd actually pelted you with metaphorical stones masquerading as water bottles. Better perform next time. #IndvsSA— Roflindian 2.0 (@Roflindian) October 5, 2015
The ESPN report also questioned the safety procedures set in place at grounds in India. The standard procedure is for spectators who buy drinks at the ground to be given liquids in plastic cups, which cannot be used as missiles, the report said. (With PTI inputs)