It was supposed to be a dry run but there was no keeping the steam down during an India-Pakistan friendly between local teams in Adelaide.
Expletives bounced, players brawled, and the pitch was invaded by hundreds of spectators as a free-for-all ensued after a team of Indians won this one-off last month in the South Australia capital that is also the venue of the India-Pakistan tie on Sunday.
The South Australian Cricket Association (Saca), which will host the February 15 game, decided to test the waters and bring the two communities closer through the Friendship Cup.
Adelaide has around 21,000 Indians or people of Indian origin, while there are some 5,000 Pakistanis living in the coastal city.
“Pakistan team set us a target of 92 runs and we won by seven wickets and four overs to spare,” man-of-the-match from the Indian side Vivek Mohan told HT Thursday.
The Indian team was 10 runs from victory when Gurpreet Singh, who drives a taxi to make a living, smacked two boundaries off Pakistan pace bowler Abbassi. An angry Abbassi abused and charged down the pitch at Singh, Mohan said.
As soon as the winning runs were scored, hundreds of spectators invaded the pitch at Kilburn Oval, which also doubles up as a football venue, to take on Abbassi. Pakistani supporters, too, jumped in. Cricket turned into chaos.
“Thank god security was tight and no one was hurt,” Mohan, a former club cricketer from Chandigarh turned hotelier, said.
The idea behind the game, played on January 18, was to introduce immigrants from the sub-continent to each other as well as local cricket lovers, Saca general manager, cricket operations, Shane Bernhardt, said.
Mohan plays league cricket for Multicultural Sports and Community Club and his captain is of Pakistani origin.
Rizwan Latif, a medical practitioner who kept wickets and was man-of-the-match from the Pakistani side, said, “I play for a club which has five players of Indian origin. My best friends are Indians. Our relation is fantastic.”
Organisers are expecting 30,000 Indian and Pakistani fans at the Adelaide Oval when Dhoni and boys begin their title defence.