India battle to save Sydney Test marred by crowd abuse allegations - GulfToday

India battle to save Sydney Test marred by crowd abuse allegations


Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane (second right) and his team-mate Mohammed Siraj speak to the umpire as the game was halted after allegedly some remarks were made by the spectators on the fourth day of the third Test in Sydney on Sunday. Agence France-Presse

India were battling to avoid defeat against Australia after losing two wickets before the close of play Sunday in a third Test marred by allegations of racist abuse from the Sydney crowd.

The hosts declared their second innings at tea on day four at 312 for six, leaving India needing a mammoth 407 to win and they reached 98-2 at stumps, still needing a further 309 runs with the four-match series locked at 1-1. No team has ever bettered 288 to clinch victory in the fourth innings at the Sydney Cricket Ground, with Australia achieving that mark against South Africa in 2006.

India’s record run chase started steadily before losing openers Shubman Gill for 31 and Rohit Sharma for 52, leaving their hopes resting on Cheteshwar Pujara, who was nine not out, and captain Ajinkya Rahane, unbeaten on four. Sharma and Gill lived dangerously against some early torrid bowling by Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

But they settled in during a 71-run stand to begin playing their shots, with the graceful Sharma bringing up an 11th Test 50 before being caught at fine leg hooking a Cummins short ball.

Gill, who has cemented his place in the side after making a debut this series, again looked at home until he nicked a Hazlewood delivery to Tim Paine behind the stumps on 31.

“The batsmen will walk in tomorrow believing they can do it,” said veteran Ravi Ashwin.

Australia’s declaration came after Cameron Green fell on the stroke of tea for an entertaining 84, his maiden Test half-century, with captain Tim Paine unbeaten on 39. Steve Smith made 81 and Marnus Labuschagne 73, with Ashwin and Navdeep Saini grabbing two wickets each.

Just before the break there was a near 10-minute interruption to play that saw six fans removed after Mohammed Siraj, fielding on the boundary, complained to the umpire.

Indian pacer Siraj was called a ‘Brown Dog’ and ‘Big Monkey’ in a series of racist slurs hurled by a group of Australian spectators, who were ejected from the SCG during the third Test on Sunday, a BCCI official has alleged, according to a NDTV report.

Siraj and his senior team-mate Bumrah were also subjected to racist slurs on Saturday, something that the Indian team management officially reported to ICC Match Referee David Boon.

The ICC launched an investigation with Cricket Australia apologising to India and vowing anyone at fault faced “lengthy bans, further sanctions and referral to NSW Police”.

Racial abuse of Siraj upsetting and disappointing, says Langer: “We’ve seen it happen in different parts of the world and I’m really sad to see it happen in Australia,” said Australia coach Justin Langer.

“I think our series so far has been played in such great spirits ... it’s shame to see it getting marred by incidents like we’re hearing about today and last night. It is upsetting and disappointing. Anyone who knows me, I have said for years that it is one my greatest pet hates in my life that people who can think that they can come to sporting events whether it is cricket or any code and pay their money and abuse and say whatever they like. I have hated it as a player, as a coach, we have seen in different parts of the world and it is really sad to see it happen in Australia,” said Langer. Australia had resumed the day on 103 for two after India were bowled out for 244 in the first innings in reply to Australia’s 338, with Smith on 29 and Labuschagne 47.

Labuschagne survived an appalling dropped catch by Hanuma Vihari on the day’s second ball that left bowler Jasprit Bumrah clutching his face in disbelief. It was a setback for a side without the spin of all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja after he was hit on the left thumb batting on Saturday.

He didn’t take the field with Indian media saying it was dislocated and he would only bat again “if required”, with the injury likely to rule him out of the fourth Test next week.

Rishabh Pant also took a blow to his elbow while batting and was another no-show with Wriddhiman Saha keeping wicket. However, Pant was expected to bat in the run chase.

Kohli condemns SCG racial abuse: Regular captain Virat Kohli on Sunday strongly condemned reported incidents of racial abuse during the third Test between Australia and India, saying it was sad to see what happened with his teammates at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

Taking to Twitter, Kohli -- who is in India for the birth of first child -- said that strict action should be taken against the offenders to set things straight.

“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,” Kohli said.

“The incident needs to be looked at with absolute urgency and seriousness and strict action against the offenders should set things straight for once,” he added.

Agence France-Presse

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