HYDERABAD: Young cricketers playing for regional teams seldom witness such fortunate days when a province’s chief minister lands smack-dab in the middle of the playground to watch their game from a chopper.
Such a scene was played out at Niaz Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad on Friday where the three-day match between under-19 teams of Hyderabad and Quetta regions was underway. Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah’s chopper landed right in the centre of the playground, causing a loss of 20 overs of game play, besides placing the Hyderabad region team in trouble against Quetta.
The 83-over per day match was supposed to be played between 9am to 5pm. Before the lunch break, Hyderabadi bowlers were dominating the match. “We were to resume after the break at 1:55pm but we weren’t allowed to enter the ground because it was being prepared for the landing of the CM’s helicopter,” a player said.
Giving into pressure, the district administration, represented by additional deputy commissioner Attaullah Norhio, allowed the team to resume play at 2:40pm, but the game continued for only a short while before the chopper was scheduled to land.
“The CM is coming to watch the match,” the additional DC told Express News before Shah’s arrival. He later retracted his statement. However, a press release of the Sindh Information Department quoted the CM as talking to the media while watching the match at Niaz Stadium. The game, for the second time, resumed at 4:30pm and finished with a score of 216 runs of Quetta for five wickets. The match is part of the ongoing Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) Inter-Regional Under-19 Cricket Tournament.
From the stadium, the CM headed to the residence of a party leader where he convened a meeting with Pakistan Peoples Party workers for the local government elections.
Although, the district administration of Hyderabad owns the stadium, it was leased to the PCB in 2007. The stadium’s manager, Ali Jan Rajpar, expressed helplessness when asked why he could not stop the officials from using the ground for the landing. Around a dozen vehicles were also brought over the ground to receive the CM.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2015.