The Under-19 World Cup final ended on a controversial note with players of the two teams seen engaging in an exchange of words and even some pushing and shoving on the field, leaving a Bangladeshi flag damaged in the process. This followed moments of tension between players at several points during the match.
The finer details of the incident are yet to come out, but the ICC is understood to be taking the issue “seriously” ahead of a fuller update from the match referee, Graeme Labrooy, on Monday.
“What happened, it should not [have] happened,” Akbar Ali, the Bangladesh captain who led his team to the win with an unbeaten 43 in a tense finish, said at the post-match press conference. “I don’t know what exactly happened. I didn’t ask what was going on. But, you know, in the final, emotion can come out, and sometimes the boys were getting pumped, and emotions were coming through. As a youngster, it shouldn’t happen. In any position, in any manner, we have to show the respect to the opponent, we should have respect for the game.
“Cricket is known for being a gentleman’s game. So I’ll say, I’ll be sorry for my team.”
Priyam Garg, the India captain, was clear that the Bangladeshi players were to blame, at least when it came to the sequence of events at the close.
“We were easy. We think it’s part and parcel of the game – you win some and you lose some,” he said. “But their reaction was dirty. I think it shouldn’t have happened. But it’s okay.”
There was needle between the two sides from the start. As early as in the second over of the match, in the Indian innings, Divyaansh Saxena tapped a ball back to the bowler, Tanzim Hasan Sakib, who picked it up and hurled it back, sending it flying not too far from the batsman’s head. Saxena was out of his crease, so the attempt to run the batsman out was legit, but it was followed by a bit of staring and mouthing-off, and needed an intervention on the part of umpire Adrian Holstock.
When Yashasvi Jaiswal was dismissed late in the Indian innings, too, bowler Shoriful Islam couldn’t resist giving the batsman a bit of a send-off. What happened at the end of the match, however, was the worst of the lot.
There were a few bottles thrown into Senwes Park from the stands as well – the two sets of fans having a go at each other was pretty much a constant during the game. The stakes were high, and so were the tempers. It might have rubbed off on the players too.
For a while now, at least in terms of the on-field action between the senior teams, the Bangladesh v India rivalry has perhaps even crossed India v Pakistan in terms of intensity. At the Under-19 level, too, more than one game in the last two years have had close finishes, and Akbar admitted that there was an element of “revenge” on the part of the Bangladesh boys for their defeat by just five runs in the Asia Cup final in September last year.
“I’ll say India-Bangladesh rivalry bring the part, and before the World Cup final, we lost the Asia Cup final to them a couple of months ago. So I think the boys are really pumped up and take a revenge,” Akbar said. “I won’t say it should have happened, but I will be sorry for my side.”
According to Anil Patel, the Indian team manager, the ICC has told the Indian team management that the match referee would be studying the footage of the final minutes of the match and update them on Monday.
“We don’t know what actually happened,” Patel told ESPNcrcinfo. “Everybody was in a shock, absolutely, but we don’t know what happened exactly. The ICC officials are going to watch the footage of the last few minutes and they are going to let us know.”
According to Patel, the Indian team management was intending to speak to the match officials, but added that Labrooy, the match referee, himself said the ICC was taking stock of the incident.
“The referee came to me. He was sorry about the incident. He clarified the ICC is going to take very seriously what has happened during the match and the last session and they are going to witness the footage and they will tell us in the morning [on the next step].”
There has been no official reaction yet from the ICC on the players’ actions.