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Odishatv Bureau

Sydney: Play was halted for a few minutes on the fourth day of the third Test between India and Australia after the visiting players complained of abuse from the crowd here on Sunday, prompting the host board to "unreservedly apologise" and promise strongest possible action against those responsible.

It was a day after a drunk spectator at the SCG allegedly directed racial abuse at Indian players Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj. The BCCI has lodged a complaint with the ICC.

"Cricket Australia condemns in the strongest terms possible all discriminatory behaviour," said Sean Carroll, CA's Head of Integrity and Security.

"As series hosts, we unreservedly apologise to our friends in the Indian cricket team and assure them we will prosecute the matter to its fullest extent."

During the second session of the fourth day, India players huddled in the centre after Siraj, standing at the square leg boundary, complained of abuse after being hit for two consecutive sixes by Cameron Green in his over.

This prompted the security personnel to enter the stands and look for the mischief monger before a group of people was asked to leave the stands.

"If you engage in racist abuse, you are not welcome in Australian cricket. CA is awaiting the outcome of the International Cricket Council's investigation into the matter reported at the SCG on Saturday," Carroll said.

"Once those responsible are identified, CA will take the strongest measures possible under our Anti-Harassment Code, including lengthy bans, further sanctions and referral to NSW Police," he added.

The umpires also intervened and were seen chatting with the players. No objects were directed at the players though.

NSW Venues Chief Executive Kerrie Mather said CCTV footage was being examined to identify the miscreants.

"We are taking this extremely seriously. If those involved are identified, they will be banned from the SGC and all Venues NSW properties under our act," she said.

On expected lines, the Indians were not amused by the unsavoury incident involving their players before those responsible for it were evicted from the stands.

It came to light after Siraj, in only his first tour with the Indian team, walked up to his captain Ajinkya Rahane and the on-field umpires and complained to them about what he was being subjected to in the same area behind him on Saturday.

Keeping his arm around his young pacer's shoulder, Rahane was seen pointing at one section of the stands while talking to the umpires even as the security officers got involved.

On the third day of the match, Siraj was allegedly referred to as a "monkey" by a drunk spectator in one of stands, reviving memories of the infamous Monkeygate episode of the 2007-08 series.

Incidentally, the Monkeygate episode also took place during the Sydney Test when Andrew Symonds claimed Harbhajan Singh hurled the racist slur at him multiple times. But the Indian off-spinner was cleared after a hearing on the matter.

On Saturday, the abuses were directed at the Indian duo while they were fielding during the Australian second innings.

Australia declared their second innings at 312 for six, setting India an improbable victory target of 407 to regain lead in the four-match series.

(IANS)

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