NEW DELHI // A dangerous pitch led to the abandonment of the fifth and final limited-overs international between India and Sri Lanka after protests from the touring team's captain Kumar Sangakkara. Sent in to bat first after losing the toss, Sri Lanka had crumbled to 83-5 on the difficult Kotla pitch before the third delivery of the 24th over, from India's rookie paceman Sudeep Tyagi, rose dangerously and flew past the face of batsman Thilina Kandamby.
It proved the last straw for Sangakkara, who complained to match referee Alan Hurst and onfield umpires Marais Erasmus and Shavir Tarapore, and players left the field. Discussions continued between match officials and local organisers outside the boundary as spectators berated the officials with abuse. The teams were whisked away from the stadium before the abandonment was announced more than an hour after the suspension.
Baton-wielding police cleared the stands of spectators, some of whom had vented their anger by hurling chairs. India win the series 3-1. Local organising committee chief Arun Jetlie apologised to the public for the inconvenience caused. "We deeply regret and offer our sincere apologies, this is a serious matter that we will inquire," said Jetlie, president of the Delhi and District Association and a vice president of the Indian cricket board. "We will definitely establish what went wrong, but at this stage we do not want to indulge in any blame game and speculation."
Jetlie, who praised the police for preventing spectator spill over, said the decision to call off the game was justified. "The players' security was uppermost in our mind," he said. The International Cricket Council (ICC) was to hold discussions with Hurst about the abandonment. Nearly two months ago, an ODI between India and Australia was played on the newly-laid Kotla pitch, which India won by seven wickets. This is the second time an India v Sri Lanka ODI has been abandoned due to a dangerous pitch.
In 1997, a limited-overs international in the central Indian city of Indore was stopped after just three overs. The ICC then banned Indore from hosting any international match for two years. On Sunday, alarmingly-rising deliveries caused problems to the batsmen from the start and one such delivery from paceman Ashish Nehra struck opener Tillakaratne Dilshan on his elbow. The batsman was given onfield treatment before play resumed. Failing to cope with the bounce, Sri Lanka slumped to 63-5 as pace ace Zaheer Khan claimed 2-31 from his eight overs, while Tyagi got 1-15.
Spinner Harbhajan Singh (1-12) claimed the fifth wicket. Former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya, who also featured in the abandoned Indore match 12 years ago, was his team's top-scorer with 31 off 51 balls. * AP