BANGALORE // The Cricket World Cup's top official was severely criticised on Thursday after police battered hundreds of fans with bamboo sticks outside Bangalore's M Chinnaswamy Stadium as anger at the lack of tickets on sale for the clash between India and England boiled over.
In a memo leaked to the media, the governing body of the sport (ICC) accused its own president Sharad Pawar of mismanagement and said he was "threaten(ing) to undermine" the whole tournament with the way tickets were being distributed – or rather not being distributed – in India.
The memo from the head of the legal department came two days earlier after the website handling the sale of tickets to the final on April 2 in Mumbai crashed after 10 million fans tried to log on in just 20 minutes. It has not helped that the seating system at the venue – the Wankhede Stadium incidentally is the home turf of Pawar – allows for the sale of only 4,000 tickets with the 300-plus clubs affiliated to the local association having the first say over the tickets.
Pawar, who is also the chairman of the tournament's Central Organising Committee, has been told that the ICC's relationship with their corporate sponsors is at "breaking point" as they had yet to receive their allocation of tickets despite investing millions of dollars.
In Bangalore, violence erupted after thousands of fans who had camped outside the 50,000-seat stadium since Wednesday night were told all 7000 tickets allocated for public sale for Sunday's India and England game had been sold out.
"The biggest challenge we face today is to meet the expectations of the people, that is not possible, that is never possible," former player Javagal Srinath, who is now the secretary of the Karnataka Cricket Association responsible for the Bangalore match, told a news conference.
"There is a limit where we can keep people happy. There is not much we can do. Around 7,000 tickets were all sold out in three hours," a bizarrely grinning Srinath added as he exchanged jokes with the assembled media.
Stadium security officer Ratnakar Salunke explained the force used by police is not unusual in India.
"The crowd was so huge that there was not a sufficient number of tickets," he said.
"When the tickets ran out, they didn't believe it. So that's when some of them tried to get in themselves.
"It is usual that crowds are dispersed like this with a small amount of force."
Sreesanth injures Yuvraj in training
Yuvraj Singh injured his hand during nets, raising concerns about his fitness for their World Cup Group B match against England on Sunday. Yuvraj picked up a minor injury on his hand after being hit by a delivery from bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, a Reuters cameraman said.
The explosive middle-order batsman was seen applying ice to the injury before he aborted the training session to seek medical attention.
Yuvraj is the latest Indian player to suffer injury woes as openers Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag picked up knee problems at the weekend. Sehwag, who skipped practice for the last two days, was back at the nets today in Bangalore.
Pakistan ban Hameed for two tournaments
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has fined discarded test opener Yasir Hameed $3,600 and banned him from two domestic tournaments after a controversial interview with the News of the World newspaper.
A PCB official told Reuters that Hameed had been disciplined after telling an undercover reporter from the British newspaper that Pakistan players had been involved in spot-fixing.
Hameed, 32, told the PCB that he had been trapped by the newspaper and had talked to the reporter under the impression he was a businessman who wanted to sign him for an endorsement deal.
ICC says sorry after Kotla bungles up with South Africa's national anthem
The International Cricket Council has apologised to South Africa after a scratchy recording of the country's national anthem stopped abruptly during the pre-match formalities at the World Cup Group B match against West Indies.
The ICC said a technical fault caused the anthem to end halfway through at New Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.
The ICC also said it realised the anthem recording was "of a poor quality" and will ensure "a better quality version is used for all matches going forward."
South African players continued to sing without music after the recording suddenly stopped.
The New Delhi ground hasn't hosted an international match since late 2009, when an ODI was abandoned for an unplayable pitch.