Ranji Trophy: Delhi vs UP tie halted after mystery car breaches Palam’s security
Cricket has witnessed interruptions of many kinds in the past. Rain, sightscreen issues, animals running on to the field and wet outfield have stopped play at some point. However, the Ranji Trophy match between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh at the Palam Air Force Ground on Friday was halted for a more bizarre reason.
On the third day of the game between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, a man drove his Wagon R onto the field of play and into the pitch. The man, identified as Girish Sharma, did not notice any security and was apparently lost.
After the incident, the match referee examined the pitch and the outfield and concluded that no damage had been reported. At stumps on day 3, Uttar Pradesh had moved to 224/7, leading by 246 runs with one day left to play.
A senior Indian Air Force official said that at around 4.30 pm, a security guard of the IAF was checking a BCCI vehicle when he spotted the Wagon R enter the ground. “The entry gate is adjacent to the Air Force station and can be accessed from main road. When the driver entered the ground, our staff closed the gate to prevent him from escaping. He was caught and handed over to police,” the official said adding that from Saturday, security will be increased at the gate,” he said.
Delhi has several international stars playing in the game against Uttar Pradesh. They include Ishant Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Rishabh Pant. For Uttar Pradesh, Suresh Raina is also featuring in the line-up.
It was learnt that the main gate of the Airforce ground, which only allows entry of cars after proper checking remained open with the security not in his position. This allowed the man free access inside the complex and instead moving towards the designated parking lot, which is behind the main pavilion. He took a detour entering from the Palam B complex into the field of play and took couple of rounds of the pitch before trying to leave the ground.
The security personnel at the ground swung into action after this and closed the gate in order to stop the man from fleeing. He was stopped at the gate. He was then detained for questioning by Delhi Police.
BCCI acting president CK Khanna told PTI: “This is a breach of security measure at the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) ground. Imagine if the man had any sinister motive, then lives of international cricketers could have been in danger,” Khanna added.
Delhi team manager Shankar Saini, who was present at the ground said: “Thank God, nothing untoward happened. There was a possibility that it could have been more serious.”
Delhi police said they received a call from the security officials at the Palam airforce ground about a man in his thirties, who had driven his Wagon R car inside the ground. An investigating official said when police reached the spot, the security officials had caught Girish Sharma, 32, for driving inside the ground.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Southwest, Shibesh Singh said Sharma has been detained and is being interrogated at the Delhi Cantonment police station.
Sources told HT that at the police station, Sharma showed signs of being abnormal and got hysteric. Police informed his parents and called them at the station. Sharma’s family told police he was depressed and disturbed after his wife left him a few months ago.
A DDCA official present at the ground said: “The man looked a complete mess. He was driving the car wearing a lungi. In fact, when he was being bashed up for his act, he hardly reacted. He did not look in perfect mental health.”
Although the match is being held at the Services’ home ground, the host of this particular match is Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA). Services is only the facilitator.
Delhi are playing this match at the Palam Air Force Ground, a home venue for the Services Team after the Feroz Shah Kotla was slated to host the India vs New Zealand Twenty20 International, which was the last match of Ashish Nehra’s career.
(With inputs from PTI)