Australia apologise after India players allege racist abuse

Play halted and spectators thrown out of Sydney Cricket Ground after Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj complain

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 10: Mohammed Siraj of India stops play to make a formal complaint to Umpire Paul Reiffel about some spectators in the bay behind his fielding position during day four of the Third Test match in the series between Australia and India at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 10, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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Cricket Australia apologised to the India team on Sunday and launched an inquiry into allegations visiting players were subjected to racial abuse by part of the crowd during the third Test in Sydney.

The Indian team lodged an official complaint after play on Saturday after bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj complained of hearing racist slurs while fielding near the boundary rope.

On Sunday, Siraj approached the umpire pointing towards the stands and the action was paused for 10 minutes as police ejected a small group of fans from the ground.

CA launched a parallel investigation with New South Wales Police, promising to take the "strongest measures" against anyone found to have been guilty of vilification.

"It is most regrettable that an otherwise excellent Test match contested in tremendous spirit by two friendly rivals has been tarnished by the actions of a small number of spectators over the past two days," Head of Integrity and Security Sean Carroll said.

"As hosts, we once again apologise to the Indian team."

Venues New South Wales, which operates the stadium, said CCTV footage was being reviewed to assist the investigation and any fans identified as engaging in racial abuse would be banned from the SCG and other major stadiums in Sydney.

Australia coach Justin Langer joined the condemnation.

"It's upsetting and it's disappointing," he said. "It's one of my greatest pet hates in life that people think they can come to a sporting event and abuse or say whatever they like.

"I hated it as a player and I hate it as a coach. It's really sad to see it happen in Australia."

India's Ravichandran Ashwin said the team had been insulted by Sydney spectators in the past but the racial abuse had crossed a line during the ongoing match, which is being played in front of a reduced crowd of less than 10,000.

"It is definitely not acceptable in this day and age. This must definitely be dealt with iron-fist and we must make sure it doesn't happen again," the bowler said.

According to the International Cricket Council's anti-discrimination policy, it falls to CA to investigate the incident and submit a report to the global governing body within two weeks.

India face a tough task to avoid defeat in the third Test after closing day four on 98-2, requiring a further 309 runs to win.

The hosts resumed on 103-2 before declaring on 312-6, setting India an unlikely 407 for victory in Sydney.