Pitch invasions marred the semifinal between India and Sri Lanka. © AFP
The Champions Trophy semifinal between Sri Lanka and India at the Cardiff Wales Stadium on Thursday (June 19) was marred by two separate pitch invasions, raising serious questions about the security at the venue.
In the final over of the Sri Lankan innings, as Lasith Malinga hoicked R Ashwin towards deep midwicket, two individuals ran on to the field, one of them waving a banner. After giving one steward the slip, he was rugby-tackled to the ground by another and then escorted off the field.
There had been ugly incidents outside The Oval on June 17, after the Australia-Sri Lanka game, with protestors from the Boycott Sri Lanka movement alleging that Sri Lankan fans had assaulted them. Supporters travelling to Cardiff were subsequently warned about the possibility of retribution.
In the 18th over of the Indian chase, six men ran on to the field, with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) flags in their hands. Even as the stewards tried to restrain them, one got within touching distance of Kusal Perera and tried to drape a flag over him. It took a couple of minutes for them to be led away, but the protests continued outside the ground.