Gautam Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary, captains of the Delhi and Bengal teams, were involved in a prolonged heated exchange during the third day's play of the Ranji Trophy match at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi. The umpire, K Srinath, had to intervene, and the match referee, Valmik Buch, called for a hearing after which he fined Gambhir 70% of his match fee and Tiwary, 40%.
In a statement issued after the hearing, Gambhir said Buch conceded he had seen video evidence of Tiwary pushing Delhi seamer Pradeep Sangwan. A day later, Tiwary told PTI that Gambhir's abuse was aimed at his parents, which was not acceptable. He also said CAB president Sourav Ganguly was not pleased with the incident.*
The incident had happened in the seventh over of Bengal's second innings, when Tiwary came out to bat at the fall of the second wicket, that of Parthasarathi Bhattacharjee to the left-arm spin of Manan Sharma. Delhi had fallen behind by 108 runs in the first innings, and were looking to bowl Bengal out a second time around for a shot at an outright win.
Tiwary came out wearing a cap, but even before he faced a delivery - probably realising a pace bowler was bowling from the other end - he called for a helmet. Delhi probably saw this as an act of wasting time by Bengal to hold on to their three first-innings lead points. There were words exchanged, which soon gave way to aggressive gestures between Gambhir, fielding at first slip, and Tiwary.
Srinath had to separate the two. Buch called in the two team managers, Manoj Kapoor of Delhi and Sameer Dasgupta of Bengal, and the two captains.
Gambhir's statement accused Tiwary of wasting time. "My team-mates urged Manoj to refrain from wasting time," Gambhir said. "Instead of getting on with his batting he started abusing some of Delhi players. At which point I came in and told him what I thought about his demeanour. The umpires did a wonderful job of calming the situation by intervening right there. And the matter ended.
"I attended match referee's hearing post the day's play where he accepted that he doesn't have any video evidence of me pushing the umpire. On the contrary the match referee conceded he had video evidence where Manoj is seen pushing Pradeep Sangwan. I am not complaining here but stating what the honourable match referee told me."
Speaking to PTI, Tiwary said: "Obviously they were pressurising me but that does not mean he has the right to abuse me. What I said, sledging in a competitive way is good but you don't have to sledge taking your father or mother's name. You don't want to cross line when you play competitive game.
"I spoke to him [Ganguly] and told him about the whole incident. He was very upset because, somewhere his name was also raised."
Earlier, on Twitter, Tiwary had accused Gambhir of lying about the incident. His tweet read:
The Delhi and Bengal camps tried to downplay the incident though. "The score is 2 for 2, a spinner is bowling, there are five men around the bat, the game is beautifully set up. Fielders say things at such times to build pressure. These things happen when players are playing with passion," Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya told ESPNcricinfo. "We will know the match referee's view only later."
PTI quoted Bengal's left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha as saying: "I know cricket is a gentleman's game, but when men play these things happen. This is not first time it has happened on a cricket field. Let's talk about Bengal's performance [rather] than this small incident."
Gambhir and Tiwary are former Kolkata Knight Riders team-mates. Tiwary had vented his frustration on Twitter in 2013, when Knight Riders, captained by Gambhir, had left him out of the playing XI for a game.
*14.00GMT, October 25: This article was updated.