It can't get freakier than this. A groundsman who was readying the Jamia Millia Islamia University Ground for the Vijay Hazare Trophy match between Punjab and Haryana was shot in the stomach around 8:20 am on Thursday. This was minutes after the teams had entered the premises.
The groundsman, identified as Shadab, 23, took a while to figure out that he had been shot. He then rushed to his seniors. "Someone shot at me from the university canteen side," he cried. His colleagues, who were taking off the covers, were obviously stunned.
There was panic all around but the other groundsmen took Shadab away. "We had to host a Ranji one-dayer and we decided not to let any of the players know about the incident," a senior groundsman told dna.
The organisers called the police and Shadab was taken to the nearby trauma care centre. The match, which was due to start at 9:30 am, was, however, delayed by two hours due to a "wet outfield". A Jamia insider told this newspaper that the start of play was delayed due to the mishap.
More importantly, star players Harbhajan Singh (Punjab) and Joginder Sharma (Haryana) were performing stretching exercises with their teammates, but no one had absolutely any clue about what was going on. "You are the first person who is telling me all this," a shocked Punjab coach, Bhupinder Singh Sr, told this paper. "We were certainly not told by anyone. But if this has happened, then this is certainly worrisome for us," he added.
Shockingly enough, the police didn't beef up security around the match venue. "We have registered a case of accidental injury. The injury suffered by the groundsman is minor. That's what the medical report says. Investigations are on," deputy commissioner of police (southeast) P Karunakaran told dna.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the bullet could have been accidentally shot from a licensed weapon. "It is already a restricted zone and one police official is always posted at the ground," was the explanation.
But going by a Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) sports committee member, "not letting both teams know about the incident was a planned move in order to prevent any chaos during the match".
Noor Mohammad, the recently-retired groundsman of Jamia, termed the incident unfortunate. "I was there for more than 30 years. Not once did I come across an incident of this nature. But I'm happy that the match went off peacefully," said Mohammad, who was at the venue on Thursday.
You are the first person who is telling me all this. We were certainly not told by anyone. But if this has happened, then this is certainly worrisome for us
—Bhupinder Singh Sr, Punjab coach
Mumbai go down against Baroda
Kedar Devdhar's ton was too much for Mumbai to take as they went down by 44 runs against Baroda in their Vijay Hazare Trophy opener at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground in Rajkot on Thursday. Riding on Devdhar's 137-ball 148, Baroda posted a massive 346 in their quota of 50 overs. Yusuf Pathan (53*) chipped in with some late blows in the end. In reply, no Mumbai batsman other than Sushant Marathe (77) and Abhishek Nayar (65*) managed to stay in on the flat wicket.