Sydney/New Delhi: Indian cricketers, especially pacer Mohammed Siraj, endured racist slurs from the crowd for the second successive day in the third Test against Australia in Sydney, leading to play being held up for ten minutes and six spectators being thrown out of the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The abusive chant did not cease even as the six spectators were led out of the stadium; no legal charges were pressed and they were let off with a token fine.
Siraj, still grieving the death of his father a little over a month ago, was called a "Brown Dog" and "Big Monkey", BCCI sources said.
The 26-year-old, on his maiden tour Down Under, followed the protocol and promptly went up to his skipper Ajinkya Rahane and the on-field umpires, who halted play for about 10 minutes and called in the security.
This was after the bowler and his senior pace partner Jasprit Bumrah were abused by a drunk man on Saturday. The BCCI has already complained about it to ICC match referee David Boon.
Siraj alleged he was abused when he headed back to the boundary after bowling the previous over - during which he was hit for two sixes by Australian batsman Cameron Green. ‘‘It mustn’t be nice. You’ve just been clobbered for two massive sixes,’’ TV commentator Sunil Gavaskar said. ‘‘You go to deep fine leg trying to get over [a bad over], and someone says something to you,’’ reports Daily Mail.
‘‘Personally, I think Adelaide and Melbourne weren’t so bad. But this has been a continuous thing at Sydney. I have experienced it as well. They do tend to get nasty. I don't know why and for what reason. I was quite surprised that some sections of the crowd continuously did it, and there were no mates around them to pull them up for it. Disappointing is a very, very mild word, I must say,’’ Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was heard saying.
Watching the match in his sitting room in India, where he is on paternity leave, Captain Virat Kohli tweeted: ‘Racial abuse is absolutely unacceptable. Having gone through many incidents of really pathetic things said on the boundary lines, this is the absolute peak of rowdy behaviour. It’s sad to see this happen on the field.’
Australia coach Justin Langer expressed his disgust too, calling racism one of his greatest pet hates. "I mean, I have hated it as a player, I have hated it as a coach, we have seen in different parts of the world, it is really sad to see this happen in Australia," he said, disappointed that racial abuse has overshadowed the engaging cricket that has been played in the match.
BCCI Secretary Jay Shah offered the first official response from the Indian Board, saying that "racism has no place in our great sport or in any walk of society."
In Dubai, the ICC also issued a statement, condemning the turn of events and seeking an action taken report from CA.
Australia looked on course for a victory after setting the visitors a target of 407 on Sunday. At stumps, India were two down for 98.
The incidents of racial abuse revived memories of the infamous 'Monkeygate' episode during the 2007-08 series. Incidentally, that controversy too flared up during the Sydney Test when Andrew Symonds claimed that Harbhajan Singh hurled the racist slur at him multiple times. However, the Indian off-spinner, who denied the charge, was cleared after a hearing on the matter.