Andrew Symonds was targeted by the crowd © AFP

Andrew Symonds was apparently the target of racist abuse during the fifth ODI against India in Vadodara on Thursday after being subjected to monkey chants while fielding on the boundary. According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, the incident occurred during the second half of India's innings at the IPCL Sports Complex, but the police and the state cricket administration denied the allegation.

Sources within the Australian squad confirmed to the paper the abuse took place, but have referred the matter to the local authorities, who may face an inquest from the International Cricket Council. "Like any cricketing centre in India, we would never tolerate this kind of behaviour," Makarand Waingankar, the chief executive of the local Baroda Cricket Association," said. "Racism should not exist in India at all.

"We are a cosmopolitan country, with many religions and dialects living peacefully together. This is the cultural city of Gujarat, and it would be a shame if that was to be spoilt by a few people." The fifth ODI was also marred during Australia's surge to victory when a section of the crowd pelted the playing area with bottles.

The local police had another explanation, though. "The crowd was chanting 'Ganapatibappa Moriya' [a chant to Lord Ganesha] after Indian wickets kept falling. They did not expect their team to lose and did not spare some of the Indian players either. But none uttered a single word against any Australian player," Vadodara Police Commissioner PC Thakur told PTI. The secretary of the Baroda Cricket Association repeated that line, saying, "The crowd chanted hoping for some divine intervention and none of them passed any racial remark against any Australian."

The ICC took measures to stamp out racism last year after the South Africa team complained of crowd abuse during their tour of Australia. Under the new code, spectators who are found guilty of racial abuse could face life bans and the venues are subject to fines and the loss of international status.