Bricks and a broken chair bare telltale signs of vandalism on Wednesday. (Bhola Prasad)
The decision of umpires to call off the Group A Ranji Trophy match between Jharkhand and Delhi at Keenan Stadium on Wednesday broke the patience of cricket lovers, who had been flocking to the grounds since Sunday, when the tie was scheduled to begin.
As news spread around noon that the outfield was still wet, the disappointed crowd started pelting bricks on the grounds. Some spectators broke grilles and entered the greens. Video analyst Sanjay Kumar of Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA), was injured while trying to save his camera from bricks.
Trouble started soon after umpires Sanjay Hazare and Abhijeet Deshmukh and match referee Vijay Kumar inspected the grounds for the second time at noon and decided to call off the match.
Nearly 5,000 spectators, occupying Old Pavilion and two side galleries since morning, became agitated after watching Jharkhand coach Subroto Banerjee and his Delhi counterpart Sanjeev Sharma shake hands with umpires, indicating the match was abandoned.
The crowd first hooted at the umpires. Then, the deluge of bricks started.
Policemen deployed near Naoroji Pavilion rushed to control the situation.
Jharkhand batsman Saurabh Tiwary tried to pacify the crowd by handing out autographs. But spectators, some of whom had come from as far as Chakulia and Ghatshila, wanted Delhi stars Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir to come to the ground.
The official JSCA announcement of the called-off match further agitated spectators who rushed to the Old Pavilion area and targeted BCCI cameras. Video analyst Sanjay, who ran to save a camera, sustained an injury near his eye.
“We understand was Keenan not dry enough for cricket. We simply wanted to see Sehwag and Gambhir,” said Vinod Prajapati of Birsanagar.
Ramesh Jha (25) added star cricketers should understand fan sentiments.
Delhi manager Suresh Luthra said they couldn’t take chances with the security of Sehwag and Gambhir.
Jharkhand and Delhi got one point each.