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The Match No.58 of IPL 2023 between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Lucknow Supergiants on Saturday had to be stopped for nearly 10 minutes due to the unruly behaviour of the crowd behind the visiting team dugout at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
The stoppage in play during the 19th over of the first innings happened after Hyderabad had been controversially denied a free hit as Lucknow reviewed an on-field call by the square-leg umpire, who deemed the ball from pacer Avesh Khan to batter Abdul Samad was above waist height and called it a no-ball.
After seeing the replays, the third umpire Yeshwant Barde overturned the decision despite the ball appearing to reach the crease above Samad's waist. The call though was marginal as Samad was slightly crouching at that time, leaving the batter as well as non-striker Heinrich Klaasen unimpressed and the square-leg umpire giving a bemused look.
But after Klaasen got a top-edge on a pull off Avesh for four, the crowd behind Lucknow's dugout began to be unruly, with on-field umpires Akshay Totre and J. Madangopal needing to intervene as the rest of Lucknow's players and support staff, including head coach Andy Flower, formed a huddle inside the boundary rope.
According to Cricbuzz, 'nuts and bolts' were thrown towards the Lucknow dugout, while videos on social media said the crowd chanted 'Kohli, Kohli' to rile up mentor Gautam Gambhir about his fiery clash with Virat Kohli earlier this month. As of now, there has been no official confirmation about what exactly happened as play resumed.
"A little crowd issue, we can say, a little crowd issue -- which is never nice," said on-air commentator Simon Doull. "No, it isn't. It's the issue of that overturned no ball, the legal delivery and the complaints. The team are trying to make sure everything is okay, the Lucknow team, the visiting side," added Mpumelelo Mbangwa.
Sunil Gavaskar commented, "What's hard to understand is most dugouts have what we call flexi-glass. Here we have a beach umbrella kind of thing, which is no protection. Come on, the Hyderabad Cricket Association can provide the proper dugouts rather than these makeshift things you see. Obviously, these are a problem, an issue."
"They've actually made it worse for their own team. It's disappointing what they've done, we won't go into the details of what they've done but it's really disappointing," added Doull.
Hyderabad finished their innings on 182/6, making 13 runs off the last nine balls after the disruption started. Klaasen came down heavily on the disruption during a mid-innings chat with the broadcasters.
"I'm disappointed with the crowd, to be honest, that's not what you want at your home venue. You want people to want to play at your home venue so very disappointed. That broke a lot of momentum. Some not-so-great umpiring decisions are being made but that's part of the game and you have to get over it and go on with life."
Posting 182/6 on board wasn't sufficient for Hyderabad as Prerak Mankad, Nicholas Pooran and Marcus Stoinis changed gears in a display of unbelievable big-hitting to take Lucknow to a seven-wicket victory with four balls to spare.
On a pitch with some turn for spinners, where Lucknow captain Krunal Pandya took 2-24, Mankad top-scored with an unbeaten 64 off 45 balls to anchor the chase, Pooran was at his blazing best to be 44 not out off 13 balls while Stoinis made up for a slow start to score 40 off 25 balls.
Stoinis and Pooran were pivotal in bringing the turning point of the match, smashing 31 runs in the 16th over bowled by Abhishek Sharma. With the win ending their three-game winless streak, Lucknow are now in fourth place in the points table with 13 points, while Hyderabad's Playoffs hopes are now tricky.