Sehwag, Gambhir escape a mob attack

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir escaped unhurt as cricket crazy crowds clashed with policeat Moinul Haq stadium on Monday.

Updated: January 20, 2009 17:40 IST
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India openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir escaped unhurt as cricket crazy crowds clashed with police, hurling stones and scuffling with men in uniform, at Moinul Haq stadium on Monday during the prize distribution ceremony of a Twenty20 cricket tournament.

None of the members of the Indian squad, including Praveen Kumar, who have been named for the Sri Lanka tour beginning later this month, was injured, superintendent of police(city) Anwar Hussain said.

The stadium plunged into utter chaos when scores of unruly fans in their uncontrolled eagerness to have a close look at the cricket stars, scaled the iron mesh fence and climbed down on to the field where the stage was set for prize distribution by Governor RL Bhatia.

As they scrambled to come close to the players, the police overpowered a couple of them and rained baton blows.

Angry at this, hundreds of others in the stands began throwing stones at the police, inflicting minor injuries to two of them. Many other fans streamed into the ground through a portion of the fence that gave way.

Soon more policemen guarding the periphery of the stadium were called in and a security cordon was thrown around the players and the VIPs, including the Governor.

As the chaotic scenes continued for about half an hour, Bhatia gave away the Aircel T-20 cricket festival frontline trophy to Sehwag, ITC XI skipper.

As the situation threatened to turn uglier, Bhojpuri actor and singer Manoj Tiwari came to the field holding a microphone and tried to pacify the agitated spectators by belting out a few Bhojpuri film numbers.

Former India cricketer-turned BJP politician Kirti Azad, also president of Association of Bihar Cricket (ABC) which organised the T-20 festival charity tournament for raising funds for the state's flood victims, came to the field to try and calm the crowd.

"I hope you loved the game and I am contemplating organising more such matches in the future. I will strive to bring Bangladesh and Sri Lanka teams here to entertain you, but if you show the same lack of spirit how will it be possible?" asked Azad, the chairman of the organising committee of the tournament.

Meanwhile, police escorted Governor RL Bhatia to the Raj Bhavan and whisked away the cricketers to their hotel. "Thankfully, none of the players nor VIPs were injured. All were escorted to safety," Anwar Hussain said.

Earlier, Sehwag led ITC XI to a 34-run victory over rivals Frontline XI led by Ajay Jadeja, former India all-rounder.

Batting first, ITC XI made an impressive 201/5 in 20 overs. Jadeja's unbeaten century went in vain as his team managed to score only 167 for 5.

Sehwag was cheered by the crowd as he came out to open the ITC XI innings with stylish left-hander Gautam Gambhir. As the crowd chanted his name in unison, Sehwag entertained them with an 18-ball 48-run knock studded with seven fours and three sixes before being bowled by Jadeja.

Gambhir scored 41 facing 32 balls with six fours and one over the fence. Other main scorers for ITC were Praveen Kumar (17), Deepak Joon (32) and Sachin Rana (35).

While Babloo Kumar took two wickets for 26 in his four-over spell, Jadeja 1/37, Kambli 1/12 and Abid 1/56 were other wicket takers for Frontline XI.

Jadeja's 102 not out was studded with ten boundaries and five hits over the fence, while Kambli made 27 with two sixes and a four.

For ITC XI, Praveen Kumar took two wickets for 18 and Piyush Chawla chipped in one for 42.

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