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HT Correspondent/Agencies, Hindustan Times
Ranchi, February 24, 2011
A 12,000-strong crowd at the hockey stadium in Morhabadi forced the National Games organisers to reschedule Wednesday's men's semifinal match between Jharkhand and Maharashtra. Reason: Raghu Prasad, an internationally acclaimed hockey referee from Bangalore, awarded a penalty-stroke in favour of Maharashtra in the 20th minutes of the second half, thus irking the home team supporters.

Prasad awarded the stroke after Jharkhand player Innocent Kullu 'carried' the ball inches away from the goalpost in the 55th minute. But the home team claimed that the ball had hit Kullu's stick.

An enraged public started abusing the referee and threw bottles and slippers at the Maharashtra players, which forced the technical committee to stall the proceedings.

Replays showed that Prasad had taken the right decision, but the crowd by then was in no mood to relent. At the time the incident occurred the teams were tied on 0-0.

The Jharkhand team manager, meanwhile, has lodged a complaint with the Games technical committee, saying the ball had hit Kullu's stick and it didn't warrant a stroke.

The match will resume on Thursday from the same point when the dispute happened, competition director Shakeel Kureshi said. "It had been decided during the managers' meeting that no protest petitions against the decisions of referees would be accepted. Therefore, the match will resume from the 55th minute, i.e. from the same situation," Kureshi said.