ICC referee to decide Guwahati~~s fate after riot

Published: Monday, April 10, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:The future of Indian city Guwahati as an international cricket venue will be determined by Sri Lankan match referee Roshan Mahanama, an official said.

Angry fans turned violent at the city's Nehru stadium on Sunday after the fifth One-day international between India and England was abandoned without a ball being bowled due to bad weather.

Police were forced to fire tear gas after spectators threw missiles, set advertising hoardings on fire and damaged television cameras after the umpires decided no play would be possible due to wet ground conditions.

Two policemen and one spectator were injured in the violence.

"It is indeed sad what happened," an Indian cricket board spokesman said on Monday.

"We have asked for a report on the incidents from the local association. The International Cricket Council (ICC) will also get an assessment from the match referee." The assessment is expected after the seven-match series finishes on April 15.

"Action, if any, will only be taken after that."

The government-owned Nehru stadium in the north-eastern city, which was leased to the local Assam Cricket Association, was damaged and broken furniture and glass strewn on the ground.

An ICC spokesman, however, refused to blame the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for selecting Guwahati as a venue for the current series.

"India came up with an itinerary and England agreed to play a match in Guwahati," the spokesman was quoted as saying by BBC Sport.

"If a board proposes a venue it's up to the visiting country's board to accept it or not.

"If the England and Wales Cricket Board had had any doubts about it they could have sent a security delegation to inspect the ground."

Authorities had used a helicopter in an attempt to dry the ground, with the blades pushing wind downwards, but to no avail.

Local officials blamed the umpires' reluctance to play for the violence.

"We are not satisfied with the umpires' decision and we will write to the International Cricket Council about it," Assam Cricket Association spokesman Bikash Barooah said.

South African umpire Rudi Koertzen said conditions did not warrant play to begin.

"We had to consider the safety of the players and both camps were adamant they were not happy with the run-ups and the fielding areas, particularly the slip cordon," said Koertzen. "That is why it had to be called off."

India enjoy an unbeatable 4-0 lead in the series. The sixth match will be played in Jamshedpur on Wednesday and the last in Indore on Saturday.

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