BENGALURU: The 2020-21 series between India and Australia Down Under is regarded as one of the best Test series in recent times. After copping an ignominious defeat at Adelaide in the first Test, India – beset with injuries – bounced back with a vengeance and clinched the Border-Gavaskar series 2-1.
However, there was one incident during the third Test at Sydney which left a bad taste in the mouth of Indians. Pacer Mohammed Siraj, who made his Test debut in that series, was racially abused by a group of people on the fourth day of the match when he was fielding near the boundary line.
Earlier, on Day 3, racial slurs were also hurled at the fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah.
After the end of the third day’s play, the Indian players talked to the match officials about the abuse and when they continued on day four, they complained to the umpires.
Now, India’s stand-in captain in that series – in the absence of Virat Kohli – Ajinkya Rahane has revealed that the umpires had told him to go back to the dressing room if they didn’t want to continue, but the team insisted on ejecting the spectators who were hurling abuses.
“When Siraj again came to me on the fourth day, after being abused the day before, I told the umpires – Paul Reiffel and Paul Wilson – that they need to take action and we won’t play till then. The umpires said that you can’t stall the game and can walk out if you want,” Rahane said on the sidelines of an event to launch ‘Bandon Mein Tha Dum’, a documentary on that series.
“We said that we are here to play and not sit in the dressing room and insisted on getting the abusers out of the ground. It was important to support our colleague given the situation he had been through. What happened in Sydney was completely wrong,” the 33-year-old firmly stated.
The six spectators, who hurled racial abuses, were ultimately thrown out of the ground but later Cricket Australia cleared them of racial abuse.
Due to the valiant efforts of R Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari, India managed to draw the Sydney Test on Day 5 after being in a pickle.
Ashwin, during the same event, refused to blame a particular section of people for racism and said spreading awareness is important to eliminate. “I don’t think it has anything to do with a particular section of people in a particular country. The only solution is better parenting and better awareness.
“Yes, it happened at that ground (SCG) and at that place (Australia) a lot more. But it was courageous of Siraj to bring it up, so at least a wider section of people knew and the people sitting next to such people on the ground do better next time. It is something one must condemn. But I want to bring it up that everywhere people are differentiating people on different grounds, which is not right,” he reasoned.