Mumbai: Not a single ball was bowled as elevated levels of pollution and smog forced Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to cancel two Ranji Trophy fixtures in Delhi.
Deserted fields of Firoz Shah Kotla and Karnail Singh Stadium was witnessed as the sun failed to penetrate the layers of smog. Bengal vs Gujarat and Tripura vs Hyderabad were the games affected.
After three consecutive scrutinisation of Feroz Shah Kotla, waiting out two more days wasn’t deemed fit by the match referee P Ranganathan, in consultation with the BCCI and the respective state associations.
“For the last two days the players have been confined to the dressing room. There wasn’t much to do. We go back to Kolkata tomorrow,” said Samir Dasgupta, Bengal team’s manager.
“Yesterday, in the afternoon, when light improved, we went out to toss. But the dust and pollution was so bad that our eyes started to water,” Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary told ESPNcricinfo. “In consultation with both captains, it was decided that we’ll call off play. But today, when the same situation persisted, the match referees decided it was unsafe to even attempt to play. It was called off a little after 3pm. We’ve played a lot of cricket in the north, especially Delhi, in winter months in the past. But I haven’t seen anything like this.”
Itching burning eyes accompanied by breathing problems were the last thing on the player’s list, as they complained of health deterioration. Anything over the proximity of 25 yards was blurry.
“The teams were informed around 3.15 in the afternoon that the match was called off,” Sairaj Bahutule, the Bengal coach, told ESPNcricinfo. “Our eyes were burning. Some of the guys had headaches. Pollution was at the highest level. This is the first time in my cricketing life I have come across such a scenario.”
The Bengal team to be back in Delhi mostly by the second week of December to play a Ranji tie against Madhya Pradesh. Though that is unlikely to get affected, if the conditions worsen, BCCI may reschedule Assam vs Odisha and Hyderabad vs Services matches beginning on November 13 due to unpleasant weather conditions.