Pakistan v England, 2nd Test, Faisalabad, 2nd day November 21, 2005

Gas cylinder blast adds to drama



The gas explosion went off near a crowded part of the ground © Getty Images
A powerful explosion in a gas cylinder inside a drinks dispenser on the boundary edge disrupted play on the second day at Faisalabad. The explosion occurred during the 29th over of England's innings, near the Ejaz Ahmed Junior stand at approximately 3.28pm local time, with the score at 92 for 2. The match was held up for nearly ten minutes. Although the players did not leave the field, security staff immediately cordoned off the pitch.

"A carbonated drink cylinder gave up to pressure and it exploded," said Captain Ameen, a district police officer. "Probably the cylinder in one of the dispensers was exposed to too much sunlight and this happened."

General Khalid Farooq, a deputy inspector, said: "We have asked the drinks company to remove all the dispensers from inside the stadium." A police constable sustained a minor leg injury.

Immediately after the blast, Marcus Trescothick moved towards the pavilion but stopped as security personnel cordoned off the area. Policemen rushed toward the enclosure where the explosion occurred and cleared the area before play resumed.

According to Farooq, more than 2000 security personnel are deployed in and around the Iqbal Stadium as well as close circuit televisions. "We have taken extraordinary security measures and have installed 38 cameras inside and around the stadium and are keeping a close look at any untoward incident. At first I thought it was some kind of a firecracker used in marriages when I heard the explosion."

Despite the blast, the crowd of around 10,000 didn't panic and remained seated as security investigated. Farooq praised their calmness: "They were quite cooperative, did not panic at all and nobody rushed towards the exit gates. It helped us in clearing the affected area within nine minutes and play resumed."

Trescothick, who was dismissed soon after play resumed, said: "You don't expect things like that when you are out in the middle. My instant reaction was that it was something quite serious and we were a bit worried for a while."

But, he said, together with Ian Bell, he tried to take his mind off it as soon as play resumed. "We talked afterwards and made sure we took time to switch back on just as you would after a drinks break or an interval. As much as you can you've got to get your focus back as quickly as possible and get back into a routine at the crease."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo