Players face an opponent beyond the boundary ahead of the Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka World Cup encounter – the hazardous air of New Delhi. Asthmatic members of the Bangladesh team stayed indoors and Sri Lankan players resorted to masks, as per Reuters.
There are speculations that the match may get canceled due to poor air quality. If that happens, this may be the first time a World Cup will be canceled due to (Air Quality Index) AQI concerns. However, Delhi AQI has affected cricket matches in the past.
Ranji Trophy Matches, Delhi (Over the Years)
The Ranji Trophy has seen multiple instances of play being disrupted due to poor air quality. Players experienced difficulties in breathing, and games were brought to a standstill.
Seven years ago, on November 6, 2016, the intense air pollution and heavy smog enveloping the capital city resulted in the abandonment of two Ranji Trophy matches — one between Bengal and Gujarat at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, and the other featuring Hyderabad against Tripura at Karnail Singh Stadium.
India vs Sri Lanka, Delhi (2017)
The international cricketing community witnessed the severity of Delhi’s air pollution when the India-Sri Lanka Test in December 2017 was paused. Haze reduced visibility, and players complained of nausea, marking one of the first times an international match faced such a pollution-related disturbance.
India vs Bangladesh, Delhi (2019)
Two years later, despite the alarming levels of air pollution, a T20 International between India and Bangladesh went ahead as planned. The decision to proceed with the game amid such conditions sparked significant debate and concern for the health of the players and spectators.
Incidents Outside India
The issue of air quality affecting cricket is not confined to Indian shores. The Big Bash League in Australia experienced a similar situation when a game in Canberra was abandoned in December 2019. Officials cited “dangerous and unreasonable playing conditions” due to smoke from nearby bushfires.
Delhi’s ‘severe plus’ AQI
Delhi’s air quality has dropped to ‘severe plus’. The Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)
categorises actions into four stages: Stage I – ‘Poor’ (AQI 201-300); Stage II – ‘Very Poor’ (AQI 301-400); Stage III – ‘Severe’ (AQI 401-450); and Stage IV – ‘Severe Plus’ (AQI >450).
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