IND vs BAN 1st T20I: Kotla stadium is housefull despite air pollution

Updated: Nov 04, 2019, 08:17 IST | PTI | New Delhi

There were a few wearing anti-pollution masks but the number was insignificant compared to the ones who didn't feel it necessary to use them

Indian cricketers warm up under smoggy conditions before yesterday’s T20I in New Delhi. Pic/PTI
Indian cricketers warm up under smoggy conditions before yesterday’s T20I in New Delhi. Pic/PTI

New Delhi: More than 25,000 crazy cricket fans paid little heed to public health emergency, thronging the Feroz Shah Kotla in large numbers to watch India play a T20 game against Bangladesh, braving the toxic air pollution in the national capital on Sunday. Alarmed by the dipping air quality, the state government had ordered shutting down of schools till November 5 but students were present in large numbers to watch their cricketing heroes in action. There were a few wearing anti-pollution masks but the number was insignificant compared to the ones who didn't feel it necessary to use them.

Former India player and current East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir has been critical of BCCI's decision to hold the match despite pollution levels hitting its peak. The sentiment was also echoed by Test specialist Ravichandran Ashwin, who voiced his concerns on health issues for the players.

Poor air quality

Just before the start at 7 pm, the average Air Quality Index (AQI) level stood at 281 (average) at the ITO, which is near the stadium. The CPCB figures available on their website revealed that the average AQI was 487, which was 'severe'.However it was business as usual for the cricket fans even though there was no Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah or Hardik Pandya and the opposition was Bangladesh.

"There is no cricket match in Delhi before next year's IPL, so we wanted to come and watch. Yes, pollution is an issue but life has not stopped. We are going through our routines anyway," said Aditya Narula, who came to watch the match from West Delhi with his kids. Delhi woke up to light showers in the morning and that may have helped in improving the visibility.

Mask-wearing Bangladeshi players and support staff had grabbed front-page headlines in the build up to the match but the visitors never complained. However, the conditions did not improve drastically and the smog, which had settled low, would have made sighting the ball difficult. "We were keeping an eye on weather though it's beyond our control. There was no request from BCB or its players to cancel the match," said a DDCA official.

In December 2017 when India hosted Sri Lanka, the visitors had health issues due to the poor air quality in Delhi. Most wore masks but the Test was completed. Stubble burning issue. The incidents of stubble burning in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, combined with bursting of fire crackers, add to pollution in Delhi every year.

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