An Indian-Australian fan has rubbished the claims of Indian fast bowler Mohammed Siraj facing racial abuse from a section of the crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) during Day 4 of the recently-concluded third Test. Prateik Kelkar, a resident of Sydney, was present at the stands when the incident happened and was asked to leave after he tried to defend the group seated behind him over accusations of hurling racial slurs at Siraj. While he maintained that racist slurs were heard, Kelkar alleged that Siraj was 'pissed' having been hit for two sixes in the previous over and was coping a bit. Kelkar claimed the group sitting behind him had shouted "Welcome to Sydney" for the Indian pacer and not anything offensive.
“We got kicked out as well for sticking up for them, for saying that they didn’t say anything,” Kelkar was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.“[Siraj] was pissed off because he got hit for two sixes the previous over. He came to field on the boundary. He was copping it a bit and then they said: ‘Welcome to Sydney, Siraj’. Next thing we knew they were getting kicked out," he added. Kelkar claimed that he was asked to leave with the other group for defending them. The six supporters were ejected and told that they cannot continue to watch the game with the investigation underway in the matter. Both Cricket Australia and ICC have launched separate investigations into the matter. On Day 4, it was the second time Siraj and Team India alerted the umpires of racist claims as earlier on Day 3, India had lodged a formal complaint with the match officials after Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah were allegedly racially abused by a group of drunk supporters at the SCG. Cricket Australia has already tendered an apology to Team India over the incidents and has assured strict action against the perpetrators.
Earlier, Australia opener David Warner issued apology for the crowd's behaviour towards the visiting team. Warner said that there is not way that racism and abuse would be tolerated. “It was great to be back out on the park again this week. Was not the ideal result for us but this is what Test cricket is all about. 5 days of tough cricket and well done to our guys for working as hard as we could, congrats to India in the way they fought hard for the draw, and that's why we love this game, it's not easy. Move onto Brisbane now for the decider and what a place the Gabba is to play at,” Warner wrote on his Instagram, after the draw.I’d also like to say sorry to @mohammedsirajofficial and the Indian team as racism, and abuse is not in any way acceptable or tolerated anywhere at any time, and I would expect better from our home crowd,” he added. Chasing a target of 407 in the 3rd Test, India batted 131 overs in the 4th innings and remained 334/5 at the end of the innings. The series is still level on 1-1 and the decider will be played at the Gabba in Brisbane.