And it all happened because of a word called potato, if one is to believe an eyewitness. Irritated by taunting from a fan, who repeatedly called Inzamam ``a mota aaloo (a fat potato)'' on a megaphone for his roundish frame, the Pakistani batsman, known for his cool head, exploded with rage, jumped into the stand and went after the mouthy fan.
Worse, a cricket bat appeared - no one is sure from where, although witnesses said they thought they saw Inzamam call to his bench for one. Anyway it was there. He swung, missing the fan before being restrained by others in the crowd. Security people and his teammates soon followed him, brought him back to the ground, but Inzamam was still furious, angrily gesculating at the fan.
Something very personal was hurled at him, it appeared so from his red face. The order was restored after 37 minutes and the match resumed without any further problem thereafter.
The repercussions were quick to follow, with International Cricket Council's match referee Jackie Hendricks of the West Indies charging the Pakistani batsman with violation of code of conduct. A terse statement from the referee said: ``At a hearing held this afternoon, September 14, 1997, at the conclusion of the cricket match held in Toronto between India and Pakistan, Inzamamul Haq of Pakistan was charged under item 2 of the ICC Code of Conduct, that is conduct unbecoming of an international cricket player and for bringing the game into disrepute.
``He (Inzamam) was found to have breached this item of the code and consequently has been suspended for the next two one-day international matches with a suspended sentence for a further match which is suspended until December 31, 1997.
The experienced Inzamam, who has represented Pakistan in 144 one-day games, could face additional suspension and a fine once captain Rameez Raja submits his report on the unfortunate incident to the Pakistan Cricket Board.
``I can't say how the board will react, that (the punishment) is upto them to decide,'' a dejected Rameez said. ``Our board is very tough on discipline.''
Commenting on the incident he said: ``It wasn't a wise thing to do and it was bad for cricket, but the fans have been hurling abuse at the players for the last two days and he (Inzamam) is a human being and has emotions.''
How did he get the bat? ``I don't know. I can't comment, I have other things in my mind at the moment.''
Did Inzamam talk to you before jumping into the stand? ``I only saw him moving from his slip position to the fine leg. For the last two days the fans have been taunting players with megaphones. After all there is a limit to patience. I am not defending Inzamam but then it is hard to focus under such circumstances.''
Could you say what exactly were the abuses? Pakistan's coach Haroon Rashid took over from Rameez and said: ``They were all hurled in Hindi and Urdu. They were too dirty and I can't repeat the precise words.'' Can we have a word with Inzamam? ``No, he can't speak English,'' said Rameez in reply to a query from a West Indian journalist. Inzamam will now miss the next two crucial games and Kabir Khan is injured, are you seeking any replacement?: ``Yes, we are sending a request to the board,'' the Pakistan skipper said.
The eyewitnesses said the fans kept taunting Inzamam for every bit of his action on the field. ``O mote, sidha khara ho (O fatso, stand straight), don't keep hands in your pocket, walk straight. Mota aaloo, sara alloo (fat pota to, rotten potato).... ``
Earlier, the same pocket of crowd with the loud hailer, were taunting India's Mohammed Azharuddin, the former skipper, for leaving his wife in favour of movie starlet Sangeeta Bijlani.
``This catch is for your first wife, second for Bijlani? third for .... so on so forth.'' Even young Hasan Raza was a target of the crowd but he ignored them quite tactfully - often with a broad smile.
The Indian captain refused to be drawn into the controversy, saying ``we are here to play and we concentrate on the game and not on what the fans say.''
The organisers, the International Management Group, made announcement on PA system, asking that the crowd should refrain from using megaphones after the incident. They were, in fact, doing more spinning than the bowlers out there in the field. ``They first said the incident was a result of ``a bit of misunderstanding'' and then Bill Sinrich, vice-president of the TWI, the promoters of the Sahara Cup in Toronto, said: ``None of the referees nor cricket officials present had seen anything untoward. They will review the TV tapes before commenting on the incident.
If that was the case then what is the point of having a match referee on the field. Just a waste of time and money. Anyway whatever happened wasn't good advertisement of cricket, which is supposed to be a gentleman's game. - Dawn-KT Service.