Pakistan to protest after Asia Cup fan violence in Sharjah

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan is to protest to the International Cricket Council over the fan violence that tarnished the intense last-over victory against Afghanistan at the Asia Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Pakistan qualified for the final and ended Afghanistan’s chances at Sharjah on Wednesday by one wicket.

Spectators at Sharjah Cricket Stadium ripped out chairs and flung them at each other, and there was TV footage of punches being thrown.

“You can’t link hooliganism with cricket and this environment makes you sick,” Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja said on Thursday.

“We will write to ICC, raise concerns, and do whatever we can because the visuals were gruesome.

“Wins and losses are part of the game. It was a grueling contest and emotions should have been kept in control. So until the environment is right, you can’t grow and go forward as a cricket-playing nation.”

Raja added the fans’ rowdy behavior put the Pakistan team at risk.

Tempers also flared when Afghanistan fast bowler Fareed Ahmad dismissed Pakistan power-hitter Asif Ali. Ahmad celebrated by throwing fake punches in the face of Asif, who pushed back the Afghani and raised his bat at his face. Both players were caught exchanging heated words before Afghanistan players separated them.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board called on the ICC to ban Asif for the rest of the tournament.

“This is stupidity at extreme level by Asif Ali and should be banned from the rest of the tournament, any bowler has the right to celebrate but being physical is not acceptable at all,” ACB chief executive officer Shafiq Stanikzai tweeted.

It is not the first time spectators from both countries have been involved in ugly scenes.

Last year during the T20 World Cup, thousands of ticketless fans from both countries tried to enter into Dubai International Cricket Stadium before being pushed back by local authorities.

Three years ago in England, fans from both nations fought each other in the stands after Pakistan beat Afghanistan in a nail-biting 2019 Cricket World Cup match.

Photo: Afghanistan’s Fareed Ahmad, left, and Pakistan’s Asif Ali, right, react after Ali was dismissed by Ahmad during the T20 cricket match of Asia Cup between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

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