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‘This roots back to the upbringing’: Group removed from crowd during third Test between India and Australia

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Another alleged incident of verbal abuse directed at Mohammed Siraj has resulted in play stopping for more than eight minutes on day four of the SCG Test.

India player Ajinkya Rahane raised concerns with umpires after stumps on Saturday, alleging that members of the crowd had been racially abusing Mr Siraj and other players.

That prompted more than 20 minutes of meetings between Indian players, coaching staff and ICC officials.

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There was further incident on Sunday, although there is no suggestion that is related or racial in nature.

Play was halted late in the post-lunch session as Mr Rahane and a visibly upset Mr Siraj alerted umpires about an alleged incident in the grandstands.

Umpires Paul Reiffel and Paul Wilson had a long debrief with Indian players then spoke with ground staff, trying to get to the bottom of who was responsible for the comments directed at boundary fielder Mr Siraj.

A group of India’s players also walked towards the boundaries while Australia’s captain Tim Paine, who was batting at the time, joined India’s team huddle

Police locked onto at least seven fans who left their seats and walked out of the stands alongside the two officers.

Another person was shown to be running away from the group in two separate Getty Images photos.

Cricket Australia later confirmed the group had been removed from the ground and police were investigating.

The latest incident came as CA vowed to come down hard on any supporters who vilify and/or harass players following Saturday’s complaints.

“Cricket Australia condemns in the strongest terms possible all discriminatory behaviour,” Cricket Australia’s head of integrity and security Sean Carroll said.

“If you engage in racist abuse, you are not welcome in Australian cricket.

“CA is awaiting the outcome of the International Cricket Council’s investigation into the matter reported at the SCG on Saturday.

“Once those responsible are identified, CA will take the strongest measures possible under our anti-harassment code.

“Including lengthy bans, further sanctions and referral to NSW Police.

“As series hosts, we unreservedly apologise to our friends in the Indian cricket team and assure them we will prosecute the matter to its fullest extent.”

The SCG is using CCTV footage to help investigate the alleged verbal abuse.

“At the SCG, we pride ourselves on welcoming anyone and everyone in a safe and inclusive environment,” Venues NSW chief executive Kerrie Mather said.

“We are taking this extremely seriously. If those involved are identified, they will be banned from the SCG and all Venues NSW properties.”

Mr Rahane and other senior players spoke to the umpires at the end of Saturday’s play after quicks Jasprit Bumrah and Mr Siraj complained of hearing racist slurs while fielding near the boundary.

“We’ve come to know about the issue,” BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla told Indian news agency ANI overnight.

“Cricket is a gentleman’s game and these kinds of things are not allowed or accepted.”

Cricketers past and present on both sides condemned the incident on Sunday.

“Racial abuse is absolutely unacceptable,” said India captain Virat Kohli.  “The incident needs to be looked at with absolute urgency and seriousness and strict action against the offenders should set things straight for once”.

India veteran Ravichandran Ashwin said the behaviour was “definitely not acceptable in this day and age”.

“We have seen a lot and evolved as a society. Sometimes I think this roots back to the upbringing and the way one sees,” he said.

Former Australian cricketers Mike Hussey and Justin Langer said they were dismayed by Sunday’s events.

“It’s terrible behaviour and I can’t believe it’s still happening in this day and age. They should be banned for life from coming to the cricket”, said Fox Sports commentator and former Australia batsman Mr Hussey.

Australia coach Mr Langer described the incident as “upsetting and disappointing”.

“It’s really sad to see it happen in Australia,” he said.

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