February 22, 2009

Indian air farce

Jamie Alter

Mistaking the letter ‘H’ painted in the corner of a cricket field an unlucky pilot landed a helicopter smack in the middle of a domestic cricket game in India. The players, at first looking on in bewilderment as the chopper swooped down, quickly scurried for cover.

The match was a Ranji one-day between Punjab and Services at the Indira Stadium in Una, Himachal Pradesh. According to the Hindustan Times, a fire near the ground added to the uncertainty of the pilot, who mistook it for smoke signals, and also confused the letter ‘H’ for a landing pad. The ‘H’ stood, in reality, for the name of the home team, Himachal Pradesh.

The impulsive appearance of the helicopter, owned by a private airline, halted play for 26 minutes. "It landed suddenly. No one knew what was happening," the Punjab team manager told the paper. "There was chaos. Everyone ran for cover."

Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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