Crowd trouble at Premadasa Stadium interrupts match
Match referee Javagal Srinath was forced to suspend play for half an hour in the third ODI between Sri Lanka and Pakistan after a rock was thrown onto the playing area at the Premadasa Stadium
Match referee Javagal Srinath was forced to suspend play for half an hour in the third ODI between Sri Lanka and Pakistan after a rock was thrown onto the field at the Premadasa Stadium. The incident came after fights had broken out in the terraced section of the south-eastern stand during Sri Lanka's innings.
"There was an issue between two factions in the stands," SLC secretary Prakash Schaffter said. "The police sorted that out. There was a stone that found its way to the ground - outside of the boundary line though. Nevertheless it was on the ground. They temporarily stopped play and then the police brought the situation under control. When we confirmed that to the match referee, the match commenced. Play was stopped partly because of an abundance of caution, because player security is paramount."
The lower tier of the stand was temporarily evacuated after the fights began, but objects continued to be thrown - in many instances by people who were being evicted from the ground. Several rocks were thrown through the back of the open south-eastern stand, and these were seen cascading down the terrace steps.
Policemen had swarmed the area early on during the incident, but while they were able to control the violence within the stadium, they were less effective outside it. People throwing rocks were seen fleeing the stadium through the small alleyways that surround the venue.
The interruption came at around 9:35pm - Sri Lanka were at 158 for 7 in the 34th over of their chase - and the players were asked to leave the field soon after. The entire eastern stand was evacuated and once match officials were satisfied that police and riot police had quelled the violence, play resumed at 10:05pm with no reduction in overs.
Mahela Jayawardene, the former Sri Lanka captain, was among those to react to the incident. He tweeted: "Tough game for @OfficialSLC . Heard what happen with the spectators. We as a nation don't believe in this kind of behaviour."
Pakistan went on to complete a 135-run win, and take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando