In a bizarre incident, a man drove his car onto the pitch during the Ranji Trophy match between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh at the Air Force ground in Palam on Friday afternoon.
The man, who identified himself as Girish Sharma, 32, claimed that he had lost his way, and since there was no security at the entrance, he drove his vehicle, a Maruti Wagon R, onto the ground.
The incident occurred around 4:40 pm, 20 minutes from close of play. The unexpected entry of the vehicle startled both the players and umpires. As Sharma tried to drive away, he was caught by security officials and handed over to the Air Force Police. According to the Delhi police, he drove to the ground after dropping his sister at the Delhi airport.
An air force officer who was present at the venue said, “It’s a security breach, but this person is a civilian and we have no jusridiction over him. That’s why we have called Delhi police.”
After interrogating him for over an hour, Delhi Police held him at the Sadar Bazaar police station and summoned his father.
DCP (southwest district) Shibhesh Singh said, “ We came to know about the incident after we received a PCR call at around 4:40 pm. We have detained a man identified as Girish Sharma (32), a resident of Pooth village. We have called his family members and his father told the police that he was undergoing medical treatment for depression following a marital dispute,” he added.
The players were shaken but did not panic. “I had just taken a wicket when we saw the car coming in. Suddenly, the driver took a turn, and came towards the pitch. He took two rounds of the pitch area and then left. We were all shocked and speechless… May be the gate was open. At Palam, you can’t see the gate, so nobody saw the car coming in… Thoda dar laga (Felt a bit scared), but there was no time to react. As he came and left within minutes, we were all taken by surprise,” said Delhi all-rounder Manan Sharma.
Delhi manager Shanker Saini shared similar sentiments. “I got scared for a moment. Thank God, all our players and match officials are safe. I have never seen such a thing on the cricket field in my life.”
India Test bowler Ishant Sharma, who was playing for Delhi, tweeted: “Drive in theater just progressed to #DriveIN match. Shocking scene in between #RanjiTrophy match today witnessed with @GautamGambhir.”
“Very disturbing to see our Ranji Trophy game being interrupted in this fashion today! Thankfully all players are safe,” Uttar Pradesh captain Suresh Raina tweeted.
After the intruder’s joyride, match officials inspected the pitch and deemed it fit for play. “The pitch is perfectly fine, and play will begin as usual 15 minutes before the sheduled start at 9.15 am tomorrow,” said match referee Narayan Kutty.
The venue for this game was shifted to the Air Force Ground at Palam because Feroz Shah Kotla was hosting the India-New Zealand Twenty20I.