The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja on Thursday said that board will write to the ICC to “lodge a protest” over the crowd trouble following the Afghanistan-Pakistan match at the ongoing Asia Cup 2022 at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
During Pakistan’s run-chase on Wednesday night, Asif Ali and fast bowler Fareed Ahmad Malik got involved in a massive war of wards. After the dismissal, Asif was seen charging towards Malik raising his bat at his face.
Both players exchanged heated words before Afghanistan’s Azmatullah Umarzai, Pakistan’s Hasan Ali and umpires intervened to calm things down. Later, the match resumed and Pakistan beat Afghanistan by one wicket to book their place in the final.
Following the see-saw game, the crowd trouble erupted in the stands. Several Afghanistan fans were detained by the Sharjah police following the incident. However, no arrests were made, an ESPNcricinfo report said.
The footage captured in the stands showed fans pulling out bucket seats and flinging them at each other. Cushioned seats were also torn up. Considerable damage had been done by the time the ground authorities and the police swung into action. The organisers quickly ushered the public out of the stadium to prevent any further damage.
“You can’t link hooliganism with cricket and this environment makes you sick. We will write to ICC, raise concerns, and do whatever we can because the visuals were gruesome,” Ramiz Raja said in a press conference.
“This [crowd trouble after an Afghanistan-Pakistan game] didn’t happen for the first time. Wins and losses are a part of the game. It was a gruelling contest, but emotions should have been kept in control. Until the environment is right, you can’t grow and go forward as a cricket-playing nation.
So we are going to express our anguish and frustration to the ICC. We owe it to our fans, anything could have happened… Our team could have been in danger… So whatever the protocol is we will follow that and lodge our protest,” he added.
The 60-year-old Raja is also part of the ICC’s working committee tasked with reviewing the state of cricket and how it is run in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country last year.
Meanwhile, the Afghanistan Cricket Board put out two tweets, calling for people to “work together” to bring the cricket fraternity closer and spread love.
“AfghaAtalan have always represented the Afghan Values at its very best and have truly treated cricket as a gentleman’s game. We hope others will also respect the passion and dedication for the game and somehow try to spread love and devotion among nations. AfghanAtalan, Our Pride,” the ACB said in a tweet.
“Cricket is regarded as a phenomenon of harmony and more intimate relations between nations. Let’s work together to bring the cricket fraternity closer. Cricket does not allow for us to show negative emotions on the field and turn the friendship atmosphere into violence,” the other tweet read.
Afghanistan and Pakistan are set to next face each other on October 19, in a warm-up match in Brisbane in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup. The teams are not in the same group in the first stage of the tournament.
Notably, the flashpoints between Afghanistan and Pakistan fans are not an uncommon occurrence. At last year’s T20 World Cup, “thousands of ticketless fans” from both teams tried to force entry into the stadium in Dubai. When local ground authorities and private security agencies restricted them, heated exchanges between both sets of fans led to the external barriers being pushed over.