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India vs Bangladesh, 1st T20I: Why is it business as usual for international cricket? – Times of India, The Times of India

India vs Bangladesh, 1st T20I: Why is it business as usual for international cricket? – Times of India, The Times of India

NEW DELHI: It’s mid-day at the Ferozeshah Kotla and the Delhi sun is struggling to shine. A dull, poisonous haze hangs grimly and steadfastly over the ground. The smog is a smokescreen between the touring Bangladeshi cricketers, some of them out training in the middle with pollution masks on, and a handful of media and broadcast personnel peppering the periphery.

They are all trying to see past their stinging, watery eyes. It’s easy, after all, to ignore the occasional cough and spittle when talking about, watching or playing cricket. India and Bangladesh play a T 20 International match here on Sunday and it’s time to carry on gamely.

On Friday, Delhi’s air quality dropped to “severe plus”, termed “emergency” levels. Schools were shut. A public health emergency was declared. It is official: the city’s air has become a toxic cocktail and the general advisory is to avoid “undue and prolonged exposure” and “minimize unnecessary travel”, forget about playing a game of international cricket.


Meanwhile, the Indian cricketers had a full training and nets session without any masks on. As if on cue, Bangladesh coachRussell Domingograndly declared, “The weather has been magnificent. For sure we have some scratchy eyes, maybe little sore throats now and then but… nobody is being sick or dying or anything like that. “

Minutes later, India’s batting coachVikram Rathourwas a bit less callous and a bit more stoic. “You’re asking the wrong person, I think. The game has been scheduled and we’re here to play. No special measure is being taken (to safeguard the health of the players). We’re used to these conditions.”

This is war-zone talk, not unlike whatRohit Sharmasaid a day earlier: “When we played against Sri Lanka in a Test match two years ago, it (the pollution) didn’t affect us. “

Two years ago, though, it did affect the players, but the lessons of December 2017 now lie completely forgotten. That time, “nobody was dying or anything like that”, but they sure were sick as India and Sri Lanka – most of the visiting players in masks – completed five days of a Test in hazardous AQI levels.

On the second day of that Test, some of Sri Lanka’s fast bowlers vomited and required oxygen. Instead of empathy – Sri Lanka’s AQI levels are very healthy – the whole of India reacted with incredulity. A 17 – minute stoppage at one stage prompted coachRavi Shastrito march out to the field. Bowling coachBharat Arunsaid the match was “unnecessarily being stopped”. The Kotla crowd booed the Lankans, shouting “loser, loser”. It was only when India’s own pace bowlerMohammed Shamivomited on the field the next day in the middle of a spell that everyone calmed down. It tookShikhar Dhawanto point out that maybe the Lankans weren’t faking it after all.

Two years later, Indian cricket’s reaction to environmental pollution continues to border on frivolity. New BCCI presidentSourav Gangulyhas made all the right noises by saying the scheduling needed to be more “practical” and that there was no time to reschedule the game. Domingo, at least, was honest when he said, “We know Sri Lanka struggled the last time. Obviously you don’t want to be in it for 6-7 hours. A three-hour session is as long as you’d probably want to be in at the moment. “

Question is, why be “in it” at all? Delhi’s population is being advised by experts and doctors not to even jog outdoors, and area-wide emergency measures are being undertaken. So why is the world’s richest cricket board subjecting its international cricketers to a T 20 game in these conditions? December 2017 should have been the wake-up call. What more will it take for a far-reaching step?

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