'Disgusting': Test cricket showpiece marred by 'disgraceful' act

·5-min read
Pictured here, New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor on day five of the World Test Championship final.
New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor was racially abused by two spectators on day five of the World Test Championship final. Pic: Getty

Day five of the controversial World Test Championship final between New Zealand and India was shrouded in more drama after two spectators were ejected from the stands for racist abuse.

Farcical scenes in England have overshadowed the Test cricket showpiece, which had looked destined for a draw after the entire fourth day was washed out without a ball being bowled.

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It was the second time in the Test match that rain had wreaked havoc on play, with a sixth day required as both teams look to get a result in Southampton.

With a maximum of 98 overs to play on the final day, the odds remain in favour of a draw with India set to resume on 2-64 in their second innings - holding a lead of 32 runs.

Day five was punctuated by an ugly crowd incident that saw two spectators ejected from the stands after targeting Kiwi batsman Ross Taylor with racist abuse.

A spokesperson for the International Cricket Council, the sport's global governing body, said after stumps: "We received reports of abuse directed at the New Zealand players.

"Our security team were able to identify the culprits and they were ejected from the ground. We will not tolerate any sort of abusive behaviour in cricket."

News of the racist incident was met with widespread anger among the cricket world on social media.

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New Zealand's Tim Southee, asked about the incident in a post-play news conference, said: "It's the first I've heard of it.

"The game is always played in a good spirit on the field."

Match delicately poised after day five

India will resume on 2-64 in their second innings - a lead of 32 runs - after Southee removed openers Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma late on day five to finish with stumps figures of 2-17 in nine overs.

Star batsman Kohli is eight not out, with Cheteshwar Pujara unbeaten on 12.

New Zealand themselves led by 32 on first innings after making 249 in reply to India's 217, with captain Kane Williamson contributing a painstaking 49 on Tuesday.

Seen here, India players celebrate a wicket on day five of the World Test Championship final.
India players celebrate after removing Ross Taylor on day five of the World Test Championship final. Pic: Getty

Speaking about the numerous delays that have contrived to wreck the inaugural Test championship, India's Ravichandran Ashwin said he would happily play on until there was a winner.

With the weather contributing to conservative batting in conditions that have favoured pace bowlers throughout, the match would normally have ended in a draw given a standard men's Test lasts a maximum of five days.

But with this showpiece fixture the culmination of two years' worth of series, the ICC included a special provision for a reserve day in the hope of giving the game every chance to crown Test cricket's first official world champions.

"There is a prize up for grabs, but nobody can control the weather," Ashwin told BBC Radio's Test Match Special.

"It would be nice if the game kept extending and we played to a finish but I don't think there is scope for that," added the off-spinner, who took 2-28 in 15 economical overs.

"The game is pretty well poised but with some more time it would be better.

"If we can get the runs going we're set up for a good finish."

The last 'timeless' match in international cricket was the fifth Test between South Africa and England at Durban in March 1939.

After nine days of play spread over 12 days, the concluding match of the series was eventually abandoned as a draw so England could avoid missing their boat home.

with agencies

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