The Barabati Stadium in Cuttack made the headlines all over the world for all the wrong reasons. Indian cricket was shamed because of few angry fans at the venue during the 2nd Twenty20 International between India and South Africa.
Shameful and unruly crowd behaviour marred the second Twenty20 International as angry spectators hurled water bottles onto the Barabati Stadium that saw South Africa outplay India by 6 wickets to clinch the three-match series.
Put into bat, India were bundled out in just 17.2 overs, to record their second-lowest total in T20. As India collapsed, fans vented their fury by throwing water bottles from Gallery 3 and 4.
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 innings saw two interruptions of 19 and 24 minutes.
It was a disgraceful behaviour by the crowd, who did not respond to repeated requests on the public system to keep calm putting a question mark on future cricket matches in the city.
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.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni though downplayed the incident. “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.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar blasted the police personnel at the ground for not doing their duty as they were seen watching the match instead of taking action on erring fans.
He also added that this incident has given a bad impression to Indian cricket and he advocated strict punishment to deter such action.
“Cuttack should not be given an international for the next couple of years. As a deterrent, the BCCI must also stop the subsidy to the Odisha Cricket Association,” he stated.
Several other cricketers, current and former, took to Twitter to slam the ugly behaviour of the fans. India’s Yuvraj Singh, VVS Laxman, Pragyan Ojha were among the many to criticise the Cuttack crowd.
Twin City police, which is responsible for the security and held several rounds of reviews before the match, said water bottles were allowed to be sold at some stands of the stadium only after the OCA cited “humanitarian grounds” as the conditions were humid.
However, the big question was why bottles were allowed though alternative arrangements for supply of drinking water could have been made.
It is not as if the OCA and Commissionerate Police faced such a situation for the first time. In the past too, water pouches were hurled into the ground forcing the police and OCA to raise the height of the protective nets.
In fact, across the cricket grounds in India, water bottles are not allowed inside the stadium given the volatile nature of the cricket fans in the country.
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up around Hotel Mayfair Lagoon, where players of both South Africa and India are staying, to prevent any unsavoury incidents.