The ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 match between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi will take place under a cloud of smog as the National Capital Region is battling severe air pollution over the last couple of weeks. Both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had cancelled their training sessions on Friday and Saturday and only trained with masks on the eve of the clash on Sunday.
Only eight Bangladesh cricketers trained on the eve of the World Cup 2023 match and Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurasingha informed that those who didn’t turn up were ‘asthmatic’. “Our doctor has kept a close eye on players. Some of the players didn’t turn up for practice as they are asthmatic so they stayed in indoors. And even for practice, we’re very conscious. We train what we have to train, and they go back into the dressing room. They don’t spend time unless they’re bowling or batting. So, we have taken some measures to minimize our exposure before the game,” Hathurasingha said during the pre-match press conference in New Delhi.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi’s air quality remains a matter of grave concern. In view of the increasing pollution and to strictly implement GRAP-4, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai has called a meeting of all concerned departments on Monday.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) readings paint a grim picture, with RK Puram at 466, ITO at 402, Patparganj at 471, and New Moti Bagh at 488 on Monday morning. The MET department is predicting another hazy day on Monday. The maximum temperature in the afternoon ahead of the toss will be around 31 degrees with humidity around 30 per cent.
By evening the temperature will drop to around 21 degrees and there is possibility of dew around the ground as winter has started to set in in these parts of India already.
“Air quality is, as you said, rightly it’s affecting both teams. And it’s not ideal, but we have no choice. We have to play in the condition in front of us. But pitch and the ground look immaculate. I think one of the best pitches that we’re probably going to play this World Cup. As you said, Sri Lanka has and Bangladesh have played really good matches recent past. The thing is, both teams in a really similar situation, to be honest, are trying to finish high as possible because we have lost opportunity to get into the semi-final now. But still the Champions Trophy (qualification) is up for grabs we need to finish high as possible. So, this game has a big impact on that who finish higher,” Hathurasingha added.
According to the ICC’s guidelines on air quality, as well as a pulmonologist (lung specialist) whom the organisers have been consulting, an Air Quality Index (AQI) reading of below 200 is considered safe for play in most cases. A higher AQI could put play in jeopardy but it is only a guideline rather than a hard rule.
“The ICC and our hosts the BCCI take the well-being of all participants seriously and are monitoring the air quality in Delhi. We are taking expert advice to assess the situation,” an ICC spokesperson was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo website.