Car rams onto the ground during Ranji match

Car rams onto the ground during Ranji match

The Delhi and Uttar Pradesh teams were left shell-shocked when a car rammed onto the ground and swirled on the pitch in the middle of their Ranji Trophy match at the Palam ground here on Friday.

The Palam Sports Complex, a property maintained by the Indian Air Force, is not accessible to general public. The security is overwhelming, and fans thirsty for first-class cricket are often spotted standing on the peripheral wall or perched on the tree skirting the walls.

But this blatant breach of security took place 20 minutes before the close of the day's play, which had been extended by half an hour to compensate for the slow over rate. The umpires were busy checking the light when they saw a car approaching the pitch, scattering the players. International players Ishant Sharma, Gautam Gambhir and Rishabh Pant were at the ground when the incident took place.

The driver, who identified himself as Girish Sharma, is an employee of a multinational company. He was detained at the gate of the ground as he tried to flee. Air Force authorities are investigating the matter.

Incidentally, entry to the ground, which is located in a high security zone, is manned by Air Force personnel. A register is maintained at the entry point and barring the teams, every visitor has to follow the process. On Friday morning, the Delhi chief selector and former India fast bowler Atul Wassan had a harrowing time in gaining entry. It took him a while before he could convince the guard to allow him in.

Thankfully, the adventure by the invader did not damage the pitch and Match Referee Narayanan Kutty found the pitch fit to play after the examination. The match will begin as scheduled on the final day at 9.15 am.

Delhi's home fixture was shifted to the Palam ground because the Feroz Shah Kotla was holding the first India-New Zealand Twenty20 International on Wednesday. Even in that match, a fan had managed to jump the fence and security to enter the ground to meet Ashish Nehra, who was bowling the last over of the contest.

Similar invasion was witnessed at Kanpur when a fan broke the security cordon and briefly brought the game to a halt during the India-New Zealand ODI on November 29.

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