NEW DELHI: India great Sunil Gavaskar led calls on Tuesday for Cuttack to be banned as a cricket venue after crowd trouble twice brought a halt to play in a Twenty20 international against South Africa.
Angry Indian fans hurled water bottles onto the field of play in Monday night’s match at the Barabati stadium after the hosts were bowled out for 92, their second-lowest total in T20 matches.
The Proteas sauntered to a six-wicket victory but not before match referee Chris Broad had ordered organisers to provide additional security forces in the packed stands of the 45,000-capacity venue.
“There has to be a deterrent, you cannot allow that to happen,” Gavaskar told Indian media. “I would imagine that the next time they are due for an international game, that should not be given to them.
“Maybe it will be another two years before Cuttack gets a game, but that game should not be given to them and it should be announced that it has not been given to them because of crowd behaviour.”
Gavaskar also said the annual subsidy provided to the Orissa Cricket Association, the host body, by the Indian board (BCCI) should be stopped.
“Quite clearly a strong message has to be sent,” he added.
The Barabati stadium, which has hosted two Tests and 18 one-day internationals since 1982, is not a venue for next year’s World Twenty20 to be held in India.
The first bottle-throwing incident came in the break between innings, but when it happened again after 11 overs of the South African innings, the match was held up for 27 minutes.
When play resumed, it was stopped again after two overs for another 24 minutes as security forces cleared the section of the crowd that was causing the disruption.
The rest of the game passed off without further incident, allowing the Proteas to win comfortably and take a decisive 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
South Africa’s T20 captain Faf du Plessis, who turns out for the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, said it had saddened him.
“I have been playing in India for the last five to six years and never ever have I witnessed such an incident,” he told reporters.
“I don’t think it’s nice for cricket. Hopefully, it’s the first and last time I’m seeing such a thing.”
India’s limited-overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni played down the bottle-throwing, saying it never threatened the players.
“Frankly, from a safety point of view, I don’t think there was a very serious threat,” Dhoni said at the post-match briefing.
“We didn’t play well at times you get reactions like this.
“We should not read too much into it.”
TV commentators were not so forgiving with former South African captain writing on Twitter: “Really sad and disappointing behaviour from fans in Cuttack tonight! Scenes that should not be seen at sporting grounds.”
There has been no reaction from the Board of Control for Cricket in India so far.
The final T20 game will be played at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday.
South Africa are also due to take part in five one-day internationals and four Tests during the 10-week tour of India.