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Ranji game halted as man drives onto the pitch in Delhi

Trespassers will be shot, is the warning on the gate at the Palam Sports Complex. It is a restricted area for public, and even the cricket fans have a hard time getting in to watch First Class matches. In such a stifling scenario, the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh Ranji players were shocked to see a car being driven right on to the pitch, the most protected space otherwise. The security lapse left the teams stunned at the fag end of play on 3rd November.

Following extension of play, the umpires were busy checking the light when they confronted this reckless driver, who performed a pattern of 8 even as the players looked to save themselves. The intruder repeatedly drove on the pitch with international stars like Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma in close vicinity of the playing surface. However, the errant driver did not hurt any player.

Entry to the ground is strictly monitored. Even the vehicles entering have to be registered at the gate but obviously this person had sneaked in. Strange, since former India bowler and current Delhi selector Atul Wassan had a tough time gaining entry to the ground in the morning. The Air Force authorities said they would investigate and take action against the young man who is reportedly working in a multinational company.

This was the third security lapse in a cricket match in the last seven days. On October 29, a spectator had defied security at the Green Park Stadium during the India- New Zealand ODI. At the Ferozeshah Kotla recently, a fan ran on to the field to touch Ashish Nehras feet even as the bowler was midway through his final over.

The man claimed he didn't see any security and was merely lost, despite what looked like deliberate swerves to drive over the pitch twice, completely ignoring attempts from players and umpires to stop him. The incident took place at 4.40pm, 20 minutes from close of play after the match officials took the half hour extension to make up for the overrate. The match referee deemed the pitch "playable" after examining potential damage. The match will begin as scheduled on the final day at 9.15am.

Justice Vikramjit Sen, the administrator in charge of DDCA, said that the issue was being sorted by the Services Control Board, which is in charge of the Palam ground. "Fortunately there was no injury to any of the players. We are trying to sort the issue," Justice Sen said. Asked if the incident will put a cloud over matches in future at the venue, Justice Sen said all points would be considered based upon the investigation. The BCCI's anticorruption unit (ACU) is understood to be not in charge of security during domestic tournament. However the ACU is in touch with the concerned authorities to facilitate the probe. With no other venue available, the fixture, which is Delhi's home game, was shifted to the Palam ground because the Feroz Shah Kotla was engaged for the first India-New Zealand Twenty20 International on 1st November.

Earlier, on the eve of the first T20 international between India and New Zealand at Feroz Shah Kotla, the DDCA honoured Virender Sehwag by renaming the stadium's Gate 2 after the former Delhi and India batsman. Addressing the media at the DDCA event to unveil the gate, Sehwag said naming gates, dressing rooms, stands and areas in the stadium after former cricketers like him would serve as great motivators for aspiring cricketers. When asked about his thoughts on his former India and Delhi team-mate Ashish Nehra playing his final international game at the stadium the following day, Sehwag quipped, "We will talk about it tomorrow. Today is my day."

The gate itself contains a cut-out of Sehwag, with the line "Legends are forever", and a panel recounting statistics and achievements from his remarkable 14 years international career.

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