Sri Lankan Cricketers Struggle to Play in Polluted Delhi

Sri Lankan players have been wearing anti-pollution masks during the Test match at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi.


Pollution woes continued to mar the India-Sri Lanka cricket Test match at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi on Dec. 5. Seamer Suranga Lakmal vomited on the field on the fourth day of play and went off the field.

Air pollution level in Delhi on Dec. 5 was more than 300, which falls under the “hazardous” category.

Lakmal had bowled only three overs when he felt sick. The Sri Lankan players were wearing N95 anti-pollution masks. Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association condemned the decision to let the match carry on despite protests by several Sri Lankan players on Dec. 3.

Playing cricket in the poor air quality of Delhi was putting the athletes’ health at risk, IMA president KK Aggarwal said.

“This match should not have taken place in the first place. It is time the ICC (International Cricket Council) comes up with a policy on pollution,” Aggarwal was quoted as saying by AFP. “You have fast bowlers, batsmen and fielders out there exposed to these very harmful pollutants over five days at a stretch. It takes a serious toll on your health in the long run.”

Three cricketers – Lakmal, Lahiru Gamage and Dhananjay de Silva – had trouble breathing and vomited during the game, Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas said at the post-match press conference after the second day of the match. At least three interruptions took place on the day, and the country’s’ players wanted to leave the field.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India accused the Sri Lankan side of making a fuss while Pothas said that his players were physically sick, which is why they took breaks. “We had players coming off the field and vomiting,” he told reporters after the match. “There were oxygen cylinders in the change room. It’s not normal for players to suffer in that way while playing the game…I think it’s the first time that everybody has come across that situation,” Pothas said on Dec. 3.

Indian coach Ravi Shastri, meanwhile, was trolled for striding onto the field to speak to the umpires after Sri Lankan players left the field post-lunch on the day.

While Indian players said they were used to the conditions, BCCI later said the issue was taken note of by them. “Scheduling of matches in Delhi during this time of the year will be considered,” BCCI Acting Secretary Amitabh Chaudhary told the media after the third day’s play on Dec. 4.

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