A day after poor air quality interrupted the second day of the third Test between India and Sri Lanka, BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary said that pollution levels will be taken into consideration before allotting an international game to Delhi.
“Pollution has been spoken about for years, but not just in one walk of life. These are sensitive matters, and there are agencies and structures that deal with this. Scheduling of matches in Delhi during this time of the year will be considered. We do check the weather before hosting matches in places like Delhi, the NCR, and western UP,” he told reporters.
However, Choudhary denied reports that Sri Lanka’s cricket board had reservations about hosting the match in Delhi. The Sri Lankan board had not contacted the BCCI regarding air quality in the city, he said.
On Sunday, the Test match was stopped twice, with the Lankans complaining of uneasiness due to the “poor air quality”. At one point in the post-lunch session, they didn’t have enough fit players to field, and five of them took the field wearing masks.
On Monday, none of the Sri Lankan batsmen wore the masks, apart from a couple of reserve players. Among the Indians, only reserve spinner Kuldeep Yadav was seen wearing one. But Sri Lanka batsman Angelo Mathews, who scored a hundred and batted for close to two-and-a-half sessions, said that the air quality was a “bit worse”.
“It is pretty much the same. Or, a bit worse probably. It is always the same. Look, it is up to the match referee and umpires to take the decision. We are here to play cricket and we want to get out on the park. You’ve got to deal with what you have for the next two days,” he said.
Mathews maintained that Sunday’s incidents — captain Dinesh Chandimal’s frequent pleas to the umpires and skipper Virat Kohli’s hasty declaration — hadn’t affected his team’s ties with the Indian players. “Not at all. As I said, it was one of those unique occasions where no one knew what to do. It didn’t hamper the relationship of players on the field. Off the field, we are great friends and it will remain the same,” he said.
On Monday, Indian fast bowler Mohammed Shami appeared to be in some discomfort, but he said later that it was due to him being “slightly unwell” earlier. Shami, however, said that steps need to be taken to curb air pollution.
“I was a bit unwell from before, I was feeling cold. Obviously, this pollution is a problem but it wasn’t as much as it was being showed. It could be that we are used to it. It is possible that we have been bearing it for some time now… My belief is that as much as possible, the reasons for pollution should be reduced, and that would be better. People are now used to bearing the problem,” he said.
At close of play, Sri Lanka were 356 for nine in their first innings, in reply to India’s 536 for seven declared.