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Incidents on & off the field steal spotlight at the Eden

Calcutta: Friday was an eventful day at the Eden, but the real action started only after the day’s play drew to a close.

While Ashok Dinda’s six-wicket haul and Laxmi Ratan Shukla’s attacking innings were the topics of post-day’s play discussions, two sudden events completely shifted the focus from the match proper.

First, Bengal team manager Debabrata Das erupted with allegations of ‘ball tampering’ against the Railways players. Then, after some minutes, Railways pacer Anureet Singh got involved in an altercation with a spectator.

The incidents were inter-related, since the spectator was taunting Railways captain Murali Kartik over the alleged ball-tampering issue and that triggered a reaction from Anureet.

Unlike Das, Match Referee Rajendra Jadeja didn’t term it as ball tampering. However, he confirmed that Kartik has been warned as the captain of the team for disfiguring the shape of the ball. “There were some issues with the ball… The umpires brought it to my notice. After confirmation, the ball was changed and Murali Kartik has been warned for the incident,” Jadeja said.

“In case there is a repetition of the offence again in this match, five penalty runs will be awarded to the opposition. The matter will also be reported to the BCCI and its disciplinary committee will then take a decision on it,” he added.

Jadeja also clarified that there’s no provision for the Bengal camp to lodge an official complaint as it is solely the responsibility of the on-field umpires to take a call on the matter and report it to the Match Referee.

Earlier, a furious Das alleged that the Railways players, especially Kartik, had started tampering with the ball as early as the third over of Bengal’s second innings. “Kartik and his men started tampering with the ball in the third over… That is why the ball started to reverse by the ninth over. Is that possible without tampering the ball? Ashok Malhotra (coach) and I noticed it and we went to the Match Referee requesting him to look into the matter. That the umpires went on to change the ball proves our point,” Das said.

Railways coach Abhay Sharma, however, said that the ball might have been disfigured because of the wear and tear it suffered after hitting the metal wires, which border the stands. He also claimed that nothing has been formally intimated to the team about the incident.

In the second episode of the evening, the spectator, who watched the match from the stands on Friday, stole his way into the Dr BC Roy Clubhouse and began taunting Kartik when the player was about to board the team bus.

While Kartik didn’t react, the man kept yelling ‘Go back Kartik’ and was annoyingly blowing a horn near the former India spinner’s face. The action was extremely abusive and provocative.

A car was arranged for Kartik after he couldn’t board the team bus. Things went out of control at this juncture as the spectator chased Kartik to the car.

Anureet, who was standing besides Kartik, couldn’t control himself and rushed to his skipper’s defence. It was a strong reply from him as he charged towards the man. However, to be fair to the young pacer, the spectator had overdone his barracking act by quite some degrees.

Strangely, the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) could do little to tackle the situation. It appeared that they didn’t have enough security personnel to ensure the safety of the players. One also wondered how an outsider was allowed inside the restricted perimeters.

CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya assured that required steps would be taken to tackle the issue. “We will ensure that there’s more security Saturday onwards… Such an incident shouldn’t have taken place,” Dalmiya said.