Delhi crowd disturbs Buttler, heckles Naveen-ul-Haq

- October 15, 2023
| By : Khurram Habib |

Afghanistan fans turn up in numbers to back their team but Delhi fans annoy a couple of players on the field

Naveen ul Haq of Afghanistan celebrates the wicket of Jos Buttler of England during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup India 2023 between England and Afghanistan at Arun Jaitley Stadium on October 15 in Delhi. (Photo: Getty)

The crowd in Delhi is not known to be fully aware of cricketing etiquette. A couple of incidents in Sunday’s game between England and Afghanistan at the Arun Jaitley Stadium here betrayed that.

Just prior to England skipper Jos Buttler’s dismissal as the fourth wicket, there was movement behind the bowler’s arm over the sightscreen at Old Club House end. Buttler raised his arm in annoyance, leading to stoppage of play for a brief while. Harry Brook, the other England batsman at the crease, too wasn’t happy.

What had happened was a series of funny incidents as narrated by those watching.

A child had put a poster just above the sightscreen, which was over the bowler’s arm for the batsman, i.e. Buttler, thereby disturbing him. Seeing the kid on camera, many other fans joined in to get some screen-time. Security was called up but to make matters worse even after the security person had cleared the fans, he remained there as disturbance since his shirt was of lighter shade leading to spotting of the white ball difficult for the batsmen.

If that wasn’t enough, the crowd, quite clearly Virat Kohli fans, kept chanting the India batsman’s name whenever Naveen-ul-Haq came into bowl or was around the boundary. Haq even signalled them to stop but they wouldn’t.

Buttler’s wicket, however, resulted in some from the crowd chanting Naveen in appreciation – he bowled Buttler just after the sightscreen incident — but only for a brief while.

Haq was involved in an altercation with Kohli during an Indian Premier League match this year, and during Wednesday’s (October 11) India-Afghanistan game here, he was teased by the Delhi crowd forcing Kohli to step in and ask the partisan crowd to calm down. Haq and Kohli shook hands after the match seemingly patching up.

However, it seems the Delhi crowd is unrelenting and unforgiving.

Afghans in the house but not from Afghanistan

While support for Afghanistan was completely overshadowed by the support for India in the previous match in Delhi on October 11, the stands at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Sunday had a significant presence of Afghans, many of who were able to find tickets as there was not much demand from fans of their opposition, England, as well as the largely neutral Delhiites.

Many of these Afghan fans were from Delhi and other parts of India, having been staying here for years due to the domestic problems in Afghanistan. A few had travelled from England and Australia.

Air tickets (return) for these overseas spectators were the biggest challenge, running up to 700-800 pounds for those coming from England. But they managed to make it to support their team at the ongoing World Cup not just in Delhi but other venues as well.

However, there are no Afghans travelling from Afghanistan.

“As far as I know, the visa section of Indian embassy in Afghanistan is not in operation, so there isn’t anyone coming to India from Afghanistan nowadays. Hence no fans from there,” said a senior Afghan journalist from BBC, who has travelled here from London to cover the team’s progress.

Afghanistan’s embassy in Delhi is also not operational since October 1.