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Attack on pitch before Pak Test

Mohali, Feb. 10: Shouting slogans in favour of the Shiv Sena, vandals invaded the sprawling Punjab Cricket Association stadium this evening and tried to damage the pitch using iron rods and spades.

The Pakistan cricket team will play a Test here, beginning March 4.

Stadium sources said the activists managed to scale at least five gates before entering the square and beginning to dig.

Six of them were arrested after the watch and ward staff alerted police who rushed mobile patrol vans to the stadium, but at least four fled.

The Chandigarh chief of the Shiv Sena, Varinder Bajaj, denied the party's involvement in the attack. 'The Shiv Sena is a disciplined party. They cannot be our men as we always follow directions from Bal Thackeray. This time there have been no directives to destroy or damage the Mohali or any other pitch on which the Pakistan team would be playing,' he said.

Association chief I.S. Bindra claimed that no damage was done to the pitch. 'A lot could have happened had it not been for the alert staff in the stadium,' he added but declined the media access to the ground.

Journalists who sought access to the pitch were crudely told that since the venue was host to a Test match soon, no one other than stadium officials could be allowed into the ground.

'It is also raining. We cannot allow anyone inside. Walking on wet ground can destroy the carpet and the square,' explained Brig (retd) G.S. Sandhu, the CEO of the association.

The lights at the stadium were also switched off.

Curator Daljeet Singh, who declined to speak, paced up and down the office area on the first floor with a pensive look. Association staff who were approached for eyewitness accounts were shooed away by senior officials. One was even threatened with losing his job.

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