The opening day of the two Ranji Trophy matches that had been scheduled to be held in the India’s capital city New Delhi was abandoned due to the thick smog that has engulfed the city following the Diwali celebrations last week.
Not a single ball could be bowled in the match between Bengal and Gujarat at the Feroz Shah Kotla as well as the contest between Hyderabad and Tripura at the Karnail Singh Stadium, after unprecedented pollution levels reduced visibility to a bare minimum while also posing health hazards to the players who complained about eye irritation and breathing trouble when they spent some time out in the middle.
“The players also complained of breathing problems. If you stay out there for an hour, the air that you inhale will cause irreparable damage to the lungs,” one of the DDCA officials told PTI.
Bengal coach Sairaj Bahutule also claimed that the conditions were not suitable for a match to be played.
“The players were complaining that they were having burning sensation in their eyes. It’s bad out there,” he said.
While Bengal skipper Manoj Tiwary and his Gujarat counterpart Parthiv Patel were in favour of going out to the middle to conduct the toss, the on-field umpires Virender Sharma and Krishnamachari Bharathan along with match referee P Bharathan, decided that the situation in the middle was not suitable for the same. The day’s play was eventually called off at 4PM local time.
The air pollution in Delhi has always been a concern with the state government implementing an odd-even policy aimed at curbing vehicular emissions as well as decongesting the traffic situation, but the situation has worsened in the post-Diwali celebration week. Pollution caused by fireworks has raised the health hazard to unprecedented levels.
Though smog is a regular sight in Delhi at the start of the day, even the sun, in all its glory, was not able to clear the skies and make the conditions suitable for a cricket match to be held at the two stadiums. The sight of someone like Pragyan Ojha having to wear face masks to safeguard himself was a grim reminder of the enormity of the smog levels that has engulfed Delhi over the past few days.
The prediction for the next few days is not looking good either and there is high chance that the match could be called off entirely. The Gujarat skipper is, however, hopeful that the situation will improve.