You've heard of cricket matches being stopped for rain, injuries and even streakers. But this is a first. The Ranji one-dayer between Punjab and Services on Saturday was stopped for a full 26 minutes when a private airline's helicopter landed bang in the middle of the Indira Stadium. Yes, you read it right. A helicopter landed in the ground.
As bizarre as it sounds, the pilot apparently mistook the 'H' sign — which stands for the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association — at the north end of the ground as a helipad!
To add to the confusion, a fire had broken out near the stadium, the smoke from which, the pilot misinterpreted as smoke signals.
Such was the force of the copter's rotors that the sightscreen at the pavilion end of the ground was shredded to pieces, while the cameras in pace for the BCCI coach umpire were destroyed.
Amidst the chaos, out came a man from the copter, seemingly oblivious of the mayhem his pilot had caused. He was there to look for the additional district magistrate. In fact, it was only when the HPCA officials had told the pilot had landed at a cricket ground, did he realise error in judgement.
Sources said the helicopter was on a trial flight to a helipad in Guglehar village where the Himachal Pradesh chief minister was scheduled to land on Monday.
Meanwhile, match referee Brijender Singh said the matter would be reported to the BCCI. As far as the damage to the BCCI equipment was concerned, Singh said the matter would be dealt with between the BCCI and the HPCA.