UPDATE | ICC probes racist abuse claims as fans ejected from Sydney Test

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Jasprit Bumrah (Getty)
Jasprit Bumrah (Getty)

Cricket chiefs have launched an investigation into allegations of racist abuse of the India team from sections of the crowd in the third Test, after six people were ejected and play halted for nearly 10 minutes on Sunday.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) probe followed Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah apparently being targeted while they fielded by the boundary ropes of the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) late Saturday.

In a second incident, play was halted just before the tea break on Sunday when Siraj ran from the fine leg boundary towards the umpires, pointing into the crowd.

READ | India battle to save Sydney Test after Smith, Labuschagne runs

It was not immediately clear what had been said, but six men were seen being removed from their seats and Cricket Australia (CA) said a number of spectators had been interviewed by police before they were thrown out.

"While we await the outcome of the investigation by NSW Police, CA has launched its own inquiry into the matter," said CA's head of integrity and security Sean Carroll, calling the episode "regrettable".

The ICC in a statement "strongly condemned" the reported abuse.

"There is no place for discrimination in our sport and we are incredibly disappointed that a small minority of fans may think that this abhorrent behaviour is acceptable," wrote ICC Chief Executive Manu Sawhney.

"We will provide Cricket Australia and the relevant authorities with our full support in any ensuing investigation as we will not tolerate any racism in our sport," he added.

Cricket Australia earlier issued an apology to India and said anyone found guilty of abuse would face consequences, including bans, other sanctions and referral to police.

"Cricket Australia condemns in the strongest terms possible all discriminatory behaviour," said Carroll.

"If you engage in racist abuse, you are not welcome in Australian cricket.

"CA is awaiting the outcome of the International Cricket Council's investigation into the matter reported at the SCG on Saturday," he added.

"As series hosts, we unreservedly apologise to our friends in the Indian cricket team and assure them we will prosecute the matter to its fullest extent."

The Times of India newspaper said that the fans on Saturday had been drunk. "Bumrah and Siraj were called monkeys, wanker and motherf***** by the people almost throughout the time they were fielding," it claimed.

Australian coach Justin Langer said such antics had no place in sport.

"It's upsetting and it's disappointing," he said.

"Anybody who knows me, knows I've said for years one of my greatest pet hates in life is that people think they can come to a sporting event, pay their money and think they can abuse or say whatever they like.

"I've hated it as a player, I hate it as a coach. We've seen it in different parts of the world and I'm really sad to see it happen in Australia."

Veteran spinner Ravi Ashwin said it was not the first time there had been issues for India in Sydney.

"This is my fourth tour to Australia and Sydney, especially, we have had a few experiences here in the past," he said, describing them as "nasty".

"But this is the time where they have gone one step ahead and used racial abuses.

"It's definitely not acceptable in this day and age... we must make sure it doesn't happen again."

Only 10 000 fans - a quarter of the capacity - have been allowed into the Sydney Cricket Ground each day due to coronavirus concerns, making their chants and shouts more clearly heard.

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